By Mahvish Akhtar, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
The Hudood Ordinance put in place in 1979 by Gen. Zia ul Haq is in question today. Many organizations including the government are questioning their validity and importance in light of changing times. Organizations and parties opposing the Hudood Laws claim that these laws do not help womenâ€”they actually go against the interests of women and are detrimental to women. Some parts of the Hudood Ordinance that are under debate are these:
A man and a woman are said to commit zina if they willfully have sexual intercourse without being validly married to each other.
Zina liable to hadd:
1. Zina is zina liable to hadd if-
A: it is committed by a man who is an adult and is not insane with a woman to whom he is not, and does not suspect himself to be married; or
B: it is committed by a woman who is an adult and is not insane with a man to whom she is not, and does not suspect herself to be, married.
2. Whoever is guilty of zina liable to hadd shall, subject to the provisions of this Ordinance,
A: if he or she is a muhsan, be stoned to death at a public place; or
B: if he or she is not muhsan, be punished, at a public place; with whipping numbering one hundred stripes.
3. No punishment under sub-section shall be executed until it has been confirmed by the Court to whom an appeal from the order of conviction lies; and if the punishment be of whipping; until it is confirmed and executed, the convict shall be dealt with in the same manner as if sentenced to simple imprisonment.
Zina bil Jabr:
1. A person is said to commit zina-bil-jabr if he or she has sexual intercourse with a woman or man, as the case may be, to whom he or she is not validly married, if he or she is a muhsan, be stoned to death at a public place;
A: if he or she is not muhsan, be punished with whipping numbering one hundred stripes, B: at a public place, and with such other punishment, including the sentence of death, as the Court may deem fit having regard to the circumstances of the case.
Proof of zina or zina-bil-jabr liable to hadd:
Proof of zina-bil-jabr liable to hadd shall be in one of the following forms, namely
A: the accused makes before a Court of competent jurisdiction a confession of the commission of the offence; or
B: at least four Muslim adult male witnesses, about whom the Court is satisfied, having regard to the requirements of tazkiyah al-shuhood, that they are truthful persons and abstain from major sins (kabair), give evidence as eye-witnesses of the act of penetration necessary to the offence:
Provided that, if the accused is a non-Muslim, the eye-witnesses may be non-Muslims.
One criticism is that Zina bir Raza should not be consider a crime. Also the Law of cutting of hands for stealing, whiplashes and stoning to death is too harsh of a punishment for such crimes. The concern has also been raised that because of the laws mostly women are suffering and are being put in jails.
On July 30th Javed Iqbal spoke to a national conference called â€œHudood Laws: a time for repealâ€. He said in this conference that Gen. Zia Ul Haq did not put forth the hudood laws to enforce Islamic laws he did it to prolong his stay in power by showing people that he is Islamisizing Pakistan. He said that there is not much difference in the two generalsâ€¦todayâ€™s general is trying to gain power by modernizing Pakistan and General Zia did it by using Islam, â€œThe generals are perpetuating their regimes by various tactics which affect the common man directly. I think the time is ripe for repealing the Hudood ordinance and as long as the ordinance exists the more we are closing to extremism,â€ he added.
On Aug 1st 2006 MMA said that they would fight any effort to repeal the Hudood Ordinance. They say that the problem is not with the hudood laws since they are directly by the laws of the Qur`an and the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (s). They say that the problem is with the implementation of the laws and the judicial system itself. This discussion took place in a seminar held in Hyderabad. People such as MMA Sindh president Asadullah Bhutto, MNA Sahibzada Abul Khair Mohammad Zubair, Senator Dr Khalid Mehmood Soomro, MMA district president Abdul Waheed Qureshi, Abdul Rehman Sheikh Advocate spoke in favor of the ordinance at this seminar. MNA Asadullah Bhutto said, â€œWe will not allow repeal or amendment to hudood lawsâ€. The issue was also raised that from the time that these laws were put in place up until 2006 there were no questions ever raised about these laws. They asked what the need that they are being questioned now was.
President Pervez Musharraf said on August 2nd 2006 that the Hudood Ordinance should be looked at and carefully reconstructed if needed. He said that scholars from various sects should be involved in this process. He also said however that the need of this time is to address more important issues; â€œtherefore it is the health, education and poverty alleviation that we need to addressâ€ emphasized the Pakistani President.
On August 2nd 2006 the Federal Cabinet approved the Hudood Ordinance for amendments. They said that changes should be made to the laws that are acceptable to all parties. A committee was formed which would look into the Hudood Laws and than make necessary changes and work to make every one happy. They said the most important this is not to keep the laws in place or discard them but to provide maximum protection to innocent women.