Pakistan Votes to Amend Rape Laws

November 15, 2006

Source: Beliefnet

Wire Service: AP

Pakistan's parliament approved amendments Wednesday to an Islamic-based law on rape, dropping the death penalty and flogging for those convicted of consensual sex outside marriage, officials said.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf praised lawmakers for passing the bill, which enraged Islamist lawmakers who stormed out of parliament in protest.

"The movement we initiated to empower and protect women in 2004 will continue," Musharraf said in a live unscheduled televised address to the nation. "I have taken a firm decision to change these unjust rape laws as it was necessary to amend them to protect women," he said.

The changes, which must still be approved by the government-controlled Senate, also gave judges discretion to try rape cases in a criminal rather than Islamic court, where women have to present at least four witnesses for a conviction.