Gender and the Hudood Ordinances

Perhaps the most thoroughly considered dimension of the Hudood Ordinances has been the alleged impact such legislation has had on women’s rights. Several recent studies have argued that Zia’s Nizam-i-Mustafa, and more specifically the Hudood Ordinances, are discriminatory to women. Although it is beyond the scope of this article to explore the wider effects of the Islamization program on the status of women in Pakistan, our findings conclusively demonstrate in regard to the more limited domain of the implementation of the Hudood Ordinances that there has been no significant discriminatory bias against women. In fact, if anything there has been modest gender discrimination against men. Fully 84 percent of those convicted in district and sessions courts under the Hudood Ordinances are men and 90 percent of those whose convictions are upheld by the FSC are men. The most telling finding is in regard to adultery tazir. Patently, the commission of the crime of adultery is not gender-biased. But 56 percent of those convicted of this crime by district and sessions courts, and 70 percent of those convicted by the FSC were men. This latter finding contradicts Weiss’s assertion (a belief generally shared by the Pakistani and Western press) that more women than men have been convicted of adultery in Pakistan.8 One may have legitimate quarrels with the implementation of the Hudood Ordinances, but gender bias against women is not one of them.


Source: Islamization of Laws and Economy: Case Studies on Pakistan, Charles Kennedy. Republished with permission.
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