Repeal of Hudood laws demanded
KARACHI – A jury at a mock trial organized by various non-governmental organizations on August 27, demanded that the Hudood Ordinance be repealed immediately.
The jury at the mock trail, jointly organized by the Women Action Forum, Aurat Foundation, and the Tehreek-i-Niswan, at the Pakistan American Cultural Centre, said that the vulnerable sections of society including women, and minorities, etc had faced serious hardships owing to the ordinance.
The jury comprising former Federal Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Iqbal Haider, Justice (retd) Rasheed A. Razvi, Zubaidah Mustafa, Shehla Zia and Zahida Shaikh said though a military dictator had promulgated the ordinance, but political parties, who later came to power, could also not be forgiven for not repealing these laws. While when out of power, the same political parties had time and again promised to repeal these laws if re-elected to power.
The jury also said that a lot of struggle was still needed. Awareness regarding the ordinance was required, it was observed, and public opinion was needed to be developed regarding these laws before these could be repealed.
They said that commissions, set up by various past governments and also the National Commission on the Status of Women, had reviewed these laws and termed them to be discriminatory. Yet, the government was not repealing them.
They said these laws had been promulgated by a military dictator, who misused the name of religion and played with the religious sentiments of the masses just to prolong his unconstitutional rule.
Theatrical performances based on four cases, tried under the Hudood Ordinances, were also staged by the Tehreek-i-Niswan group. The first of these cases was that of Fahmida Allahbakhsh in which a teenaged girl had married an already married bus driver in Karachi in early 1980s.
They were booked and tried under the Hudood Ordinance and the girl was sentenced to 100 lashes and her husband was to be stoned to death by a court. The punishment was to be carried out at the Race Course ground in public. The higher court, however, set them free.
Another case presented was that of a blind girl, Safia Bibi, a housemaid, who was raped by the master of the house and his son in Rajanpur. She was booked and tried under the Hudood Ordinance, and since she could not see, the rapists were set free while she being pregnant was awarded 50 lashes. The sentence was also repealed.
The third case presented was that of a resident of Kohat, Zafran Bibi, who was raped by her brother-in-law, while her husband was in prison. She was booked and tried under the Hudood Ordinance and sentenced to stoning to death. The sentence was not carried in this case either, and she was set free.
The fourth case presented was that of Humaira Khokhar, daughter of a member of the provincial assembly from lower Punjab. She had married Mahmood Butt of her free will. A case was registered against them, but the court declared their marriage valid. They left the country soon afterwards.
They said that the number of women in prisons had increased manifold after the ordinance was promulgated. They demanded that these discriminatory laws be repealed immediately, as women, particularly those belonging to the lower middle and poor classes, were among the sufferers. Justice (Retd) Shaiq Usmani, Anis Haroon, Beena Sarwar, Rasheeda Patel, Hilda Saeed, Nuzhat Shirin, Atiya Dawood, and others also spoke.