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Social Aspects & Environmental Concerns

In most countries violent crime is disproportionately the product of, and victimizes members of the lower socioeconomic strata. Pakistan’s experience in the operation of the Hudood Ordinances is no exception to this rule. Those accused of the commission of crimes under these ordinances, victims of such crimes, and those who bring charges of such crimes are all drawn disproportionately from Pakistan’s lower socioeconomic classes.

Those accused of Hudood Ordinance crimes are young - 18 percent of them are under 18 years of age, 28 percent are under 21, and the mean age is 25; of the accused, 82 percent are male. For the most part they are employed in semi- skilled, unskilled, or menial jobs. Of the male accused, 42 percent are cultivators, 17 percent common laborers, and many are beggars, rickshaw drivers, fruit sellers, and servants. Over 95 percent of the women accused are employed in the household. Seventy-five percent of the accused dwell in rural areas, and the overwhelming majority is illiterate. Conversely, very few middle-class individuals have been accused of Hudood crimes. In the sample only eleven of the accused (less than 2 percent) were employed in middle-class occupations and seven of these were students.


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TABLE 3: Conviction by Gender, 1980-84

 

Crime

Male

District

Courts

Female

N

Male

Federal

Shariat Court Female

N

Implementation of the Hudood Ordinances

 

M0(2)

145

/"“N

ON

114

259

71

(70)

30

101

10(3)

163

(99)

2

165

59

(100)

0

59

11

128

(97)

4

132

28

(93)

2

30

16

67

(86)

11

78

13

(100)

0

13

18

62

(100)

0

62

36

(95)

2

38

12

41

(100)

0

41

17

(100)

0

17

14

20

(91)

2

22

3

(60)

2

5

19

7

(78)

2

9

3

(100)

0

3

5

5

(56)

4

9

0

 

0

0

15

1

(100) ..

0

1

0

 

0

0

Zina all

639

(82)

139

778

230

(86)

36

266

Non-zina

159

(95)

9

168

113

(98)

2

115

Total

798

(84)

148

946

343

(90)

38

381

 

SOURCE: Compiled by the author from Kennedy file (1987). 

Figures in parentheses refer to relevant percentages.

A similar pattern emerges when one looks at the victims (when there are “victims”) of Hudood crimes. The victims are very young; 13 percent of them are less than 10 years old and 50 percent are less than 16. Females constitute 89 percent of the victims; their occupations are predominantly household-related or they are children, and nearly 80 percent of them reside in rural areas. Those who report the crimes are older and predominantly male, but their social class characteristics are very similar to the other two groups.

In sum, the archetypical zina case involves a young, poor, probably illiterate, underemployed male villager whose victim or co-accused is an even younger girl of the village, also poor, usually the household-bound daughter of a cultivator or a laborer. One important implication of the foregoing profiles is that the operation of the Hudood Ordinances has had a negligible impact on Pakistan’s middle classes. Those accused of Hudood Ordinance crimes, those victimized by such crimes, and those whose families are disrupted by such crimes are disproportionately drawn from Pakistan’s underclass. Indeed, when a Hudood case cuts across class lines it is far more likely to become widely discussed in the press.

Another major factor must be mentioned about the social impact of the Hudood legislation. This involves the seemingly widespread use of the Zina Ordinance to file nuisance or harassment suits against disobedient daughters or estranged wives. As noted above, a majority of the appeals brought before the FSC are accepted and the appellates are acquitted. This is particularly true of convictions against adultery/fornication (70 percent acquittal) and enticement (95 percent acquittal). The FSC justifies the great majority of such acquittals by lack of evidence. It is also the case that the overwhelming majority of such cases are initiated at the district level by aggrieved relatives of the accused. Three common patterns often replicated in the cases deserve note: (a) a man and a woman are accused of zina by the father or older brother of the accused woman, the complainants) not consenting to the marriage or relationship; (b) a complainant accuses his “former” spouse of zina when she remarries; and (c) a girl brings charges of rape against her “boyfriend” after she is confronted by her relatives with alleged evidence of possible wrongdoing or dishonor.

Our sample demonstrates that the FSC expeditiously dismisses such cases. However, given the procedures of Pakistan’s judicial system relevant to the enforcement of the Hudood Ordinances, such court action may be too little and too late. The costs to an individual accused of zmtf-related crimes are great: legal fees are often staggering and the social effects of zina conviction are disastrous. Also, unless the accused are granted bail (which is unlikely) they are imprisoned pending their appeal.

A strong argument could be made that justice would be served by actively and enthusiastically enforcing the Qazf Ordinance - a measure designed in part to prevent false charges of zina. Curiously, however, the courts have entertained very few qazf cases and they have reiterated it as a remedy for slander in overturned zina cases except in instances in which a hadd crime is alleged. Without the application of such a systematic judicial remedy, the patterns of zina-related litigation are likely to continue, with the FSC left in the difficult position of acquitting more than half of the cases brought to it on appeal.

 

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