Some hideous rape cases coming to light in Pakistan are prompting questions about the nation's civil liberties. According to the Asian Human Rights Commission report, Motaan, a poor minority woman, age 26 and two months pregnant, was brutally beaten and gang raped in broad daylight by five assailants in the district of Tharparker in Sindh Province on September 4. She, along with her husband, three children and some relatives, were going to work as laborers at a brick kiln. Motaan was grabbed by her hair and was taken inside a community center along with her husband and their three children; the other relatives were able to escape. They were beaten brutally, their their hands and feet tied, then were forced to watch the rape of Motaan.
The Asian Human Rights Commission claimed that the family went to the police station to report the rape and assaults, but a member of Provincial Assembly, Mahesh Kumar Malani, apparently pressured the police and threatened the family, warning them not to press charges.
A few days later, on September 13th, a five-year-old girl was brutally raped in Lahore and later found dumped near a hospital.
The next day, a 12-year-old girl in the city Faisalabad and a first-year college student in the town of Toba Tek Singh were also gang raped.
In the conservative society of Pakistan, most rape cases are, when possible, kept secret by the victims' families for the sake of family honor. Nonetheless, in last year, 7,516 cases of violence against women were reported in Pakistan, including 822 rape cases.
The victims, however, are discouraged from to seeking justice by the Pakistani ordinance known as the Hudood Ordinance. The ordinance says that, in the light of Shariah law, four adult Muslim witnesses are required before an alleged rapist can be convicted. Under the Hudood Ordinance, many victims, including young girls such as Zihan Mina, Safia Bibi, and Zafran Bibi, have been sentenced to lashes or death by stoning.
In Sindh, the dominant province of Pakistan, home to 52% of the country's population, a few members of the Provincial Assembly, including Sharmila Farooki, are trying to pass a bill requiring DNA testing in rape cases. Mandatory DNA testing would take place within 12 hours of an individual making a complaint of rape to the authorities. The bill outlines how the DNA evidence can and cannot be used in the courts. It also calls on the provincial government to create forensic laboratories where testing will take place.
It will be tough fight to pass the DNA testing bill. In September, the two-day 192nd Islamic Ideological Conference held in Islamabad was led by Council of Islamic Ideology [CII] in a bid to provide all-encompassing guidance to people in light of the Islamic teachings. Members of the CII emphasized that in rape cases, DNA as primary evidence is not acceptable. Although the CII does not have an official say in the law-making process, it has huge influence over the Pakistani provincial and federal government. It advises the government on religious affairs, and has strong public support.
The chairman of the Council, Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani, told journalists that the Council rejected the Protection of Women Act of 2006, as its provisions were not in line with Islamic injunctions. He said that Hudood ordinance deals with these offenses, and that Islamic law determines the procedures to determine guilt in cases of rape.