Pakistan: Women's Action Forum statement on Zafran Bibi case

Women's Action Forum (WAF), Lahore expresses grave concern at the sentence of stoning to death of Zafran Bibi by the Sessions Judge Kohat, Mr. Anwar Ali. Zafran Bibi was sentenced on the basis of her statement before the court that she became pregnant and gave birth as the result of being raped by her husband's brother while the former was in jail. The male accused was acquitted.
This is another appalling instance of miscarriage of justice under the Hudood Ordinances in which the victim of rape, instead of getting redress, has been turned into a criminal, thanks to the ability of the police to convert a case of alleged rape into one of zina.
This decision is in complete contravention of earlier decisions and principles set out even by the Federal Shariat Court. For example, in the Safia Bibi case (1985) Justice Aftab Hussain held that where rape is alleged, a woman's pregnancy was not sufficient evidence to convict her of zina. Earlier, it was established in Mst. Siani's case (1984) that zina is a joint offence requiring positive identification of a man and woman distinctly, as consenting parties to sexual intercourse. In case either one of them fails to be so identified no offence of zina can be made out by the prosecution.

It is clear that even under the existing Law, the Zafran bibi sentence, passed on 17th April 2002, must be overturned and the Federal Shariat Court should take suo motto notice of this case and revoke the sentence immediately. WAF sees this as a blatant travesty of law and reiterates its demand for the repeal of the Hudood Ordinances (1979) that institutionalise barbaric punishments and repeatedly lead to the victimisation of innocent women.

Working Committee Women's Action Forum, Lahore. 25th April 2002
Women's Action Forum
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