Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Muslim Parties Oppose Pakistani Women's Rights Bill

In Pakistan, according to AKA/DAWN, the government Monday proposed to amend the "Hudood Ordinance" of 1979 that deals with property rights, rape and adultery. The law is widely seen as discriminatory against women, particularly in its procedures for proving rape charges. (See prior posting.) The proposed legislation also seeks to amend Pakistan Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Dissolution of Marriages Act of 1939 to provide "relief and protection to women against misuse and abuse of law and to prevent their exploitation". However, the Protection of Women's Rights bill is strongly opposed by the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), an alliance of six Islamic parties. They say that the bill is "un-Islamic". Many of its members tore up copies of the draft bill when Pakistan's law and justice minister introduced it. A senior member of the MMA alliance told BBC News that proposal is part of an attempt to secularize Pakistan. However, the prime minister said that the ordinance is an attempt to conform to Muslim law promoting women's rights. Other amendments to the Hudood Ordinance lessening the harsh penalties for adultery were enacted last month.