Ok, the headline is really:
Musharraf last week signed into law some amendments to the Hudood Ordinance, a 1979 law against rape that human rights activists said punished rape victims while providing legal safeguards for their attackers.
The ordinance required a rape victim to produce four witnesses in court to prove her assault claim. Under the new amendment, judges can choose whether a rape case should be tried in a criminal court where the four-witness rule does not apply or under the Islamic ordinance.
The new law also drops the death penalty for sex outside of marriage. The offense now would be punishable with five years in prison or a fine of $165.
20,000 Pakistani Muslims fill the streets to bewail the overturning of some portions of Islamic law, which previously shielded assailants, and even punished victims who filed complaints. International scrutiny has been brought to bear on this issue by Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani woman who was raped on the orders of her village council, imprisoned for reporting it, threatened with murder for calling attention to the issue.
Every daughter's father in this crowd should be ashamed to call himself a man, much less a father. The support of wicked legislation by these Imams would indicate that Allah is nothing more than a demon prince of murderous satyrs.
The new legislation has political ramifications as well: (click 'Read More')
Dawn commentator Ayaz Amir gives the political scoop:
WHETHER anyone designed it this way or not, the Women’s Protection Bill is the best thing to have happened in Pakistan for a long time. Not so much for what it contains but for what it has led to: the entrapment of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) leadership in the web of its own cunning and the prospects of a rapprochement between Gen Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto’s PPP.
The mullahs are trapped, that’s for sure. If they resign from the National Assembly as they have sworn to do, they lose influence without getting anything in return, least of all public sympathy, the Pakistani people tired of the religious leadership’s prowess in the most amazing gymnastics. If they don’t resign, they will become more of a laughing stock than they already are: the butt of endless jokes.
Alas, both [ruling party president] Shujaat and the mullahs miscalculated. Instead of backing down, Musharraf held his ground (perhaps the bravest thing he has done in his career) and insisted that the bill be pushed through parliament.
Musharraf is by no means a saint, but he's a cork in a cracked bottle of potential Islamic radicalism, armed with nuclear weapons.
Dawn contributor Irfan Husain speaks to the religious dimension of Islam's deficiencies in the treatment of women:
The truth is that for many Muslim women today, several Islamic provisions regarding the laws of evidence and inheritance do appear to disadvantage them. And as they give men authority over women, the former are naturally reluctant to contemplate a change in this set-up. Indeed, the entire social order is tilted in favour of men, and when one community or sex wishes to redress the power balance, an intense struggle takes place. This happened in the West over the last century, as women fought for, and won, equal rights. But although western women are equal under the law, pockets of discrimination and gender bias remain.
We need to remember that Muslim societies were not the only ones to treat women unjustly. Across the world, these attitudes have held women back for millennia. But as mankind moved from hunting-gathering to farming to industry, physical strength gave way to education and intelligence in determining an individual’s place in society. Especially in the last 50 years or so, it became clear that to unleash a society’s potential, half the population could not be locked up at home. A major reason why Muslim countries continue to lag behind the rest of the world is because their women are not being allowed to make a full contribution to progress.
And women in the West complain bitterly, yet they've never had it so good. I guess that it's all a matter of perspective.