Maliha Zia Lari speaks about rape laws at Adab Festival
Women are raped by their husbands and Pakistan’s law acknowledges it.
Many people don’t know about the country’s rape laws, said Maliha Zia Lari, the associate director of the Legal Aid Society. She was speaking at a session on violence against women at the Adab Festival, 2020 in Karachi on Friday.
“There was a time when the law didn’t recognise marital rape. The Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance, 1979 defined rape as a man having sexual intercourse with a woman who is not his wife without her consent,” she said. The wordings meant that a man is incapable of raping his wife, Lari explained.
In 2006, the law was amended. The new law, Section 375 of the Pakistan Penal Code, now says that “a man is said to commit rape who has sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent and there is penetration,” she added.
The change in wording shows that the country does recognise marital rape as a punishable crime.
There, however, are other aspects of the law which people don’t fully understand. The law gives five conditions under which a woman is said to have been raped.
Without her consent
This means that a woman who is conscious is able to give her consent. An unconscious woman or anyone suffering from any disability cannot give their consent, Lari explained.
Against her will
This means that a woman was able to articulate her consent and kept saying no but still a man forced himself on her.
The third condition deals with a woman giving her consent thinking that she is married when in reality the man has been lying to her. This is most common in cases where men get fake marriage certificates, she said.
Threatening a woman
Fourth deals with obtaining a woman’s consent by threatening her. She may be scared that if she resists, then it will pose a threat to her life or that of her family members.
Under 16 years of age
A man who has sexual intercourse with any woman who is 16 years or younger is said to have committed rape. It doesn’t matter if she gave her consent or not, Lari added.