Monday, July 10, 2006

Pakistan's Hudood Ordinance Amended

Last Friday, Pakistan's President signed an amendment to the Hudood Ordinance that had been enacted by religious conservatives under the military dictatorship of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, supposedly to bring Pakistani law into conformity with the Quran. IRIN News, reporting on the amendment, says that the Hudood Law permits women to be sentenced to death for having sex outside marriage. It did not allow for women to be released on bail and specified a mandatory prison sentence at a minimum for violations. The amendment signed Friday allows women to be released on bail instead of serving their prison time, and the government immediately began releasing some of the 6500 women in jail under the law. The government said it would provide legal and financial assistance to help rehabilitate them. Pakistan’s Minister for Women’s Affairs, Sumaira Malik, called the ordinance "un-Islamic", and President Musharif said that he wants to the Ordinance to be totally repealed.