Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rape in Pakistan and Nigeria

Following Islamic law, Pakistan used to require four witnesses before a rapist could be convicted of his crime. This not only made it virtually impossible for a woman to get justice if she was raped, it also resulted in the punishment of the victim! If a woman accused a man of rape and she could not get four witnesses to testify, her accusation of rape was often treated as an admission of immorality for which she was then punished, and until very recently the punishment for sex outside of marriage was death.

Just recently the Pakistani Parliament changed the law to make convictions a little less impossible to achieve. While Pakistan is to be commended for the changes in their rape laws, women in Nigeria are not so fortunate. Amnesty International says that rape is “endemic’ among the security forces” in Nigeria. Amnesty is charging Nigerian police and soldiers with using rape to intimidate and extract confessions, and has documented cases of “soldiers raping women in front of their husbands and children”.

According to an article by the Associated Press, “In northern Nigeria, the introduction of Islamic Sharia law means that rape victims, or their families, can be punished for reporting the crime if they fail to provide sufficient evidence - including four male witnesses. According to the report, a mother and father received 80 lashes each after failing to prove their daughter had been raped by a village leader.”

Oh, did I mention the fact that thousands of Muslims (mostly men, no doubt) actually took to the streets in Pakistan to protest the fact that they can no longer rape women and get away with it quite so easily (Jerusalem Post)? Maybe someone can explain to me why, according to some Muslims, Islam is supposed to be a good thing for women.


professor ed said...

Not to worry Dennis. I am sure, even as I post this comment, the various organized groups of feminists in this country are preparing to pressure our new congress into boycotting Nigeria for such behavior toward their Nigerian "sisters".

Kevin said...

I'd hope so Ed... i'm surprised I haven't heard more from groups that support various specific human rights when it comes to these topics. Maybe I'm not listening closely enough or the media isn't reporting it or these groups aren't saying much...

I'm not sure which it is... but I certainly hope that we can all come to agreement that this treatment regardless of the cause is unacceptable and needs to be strongly opposed.

Robert said...

No need to be so harsh gentlemen. We just don't understand it and we're viewing it from our "western eyes". We need to be more tolerant and understanding of other cultures.