Tue. May 30th, 2023

The global campaign to end violence against women continues from November 25 to December 10. On this occasion, DW tried to examine the socio-legal status of marital rape in Pakistan.

Why is it difficult to talk about marital rape in Pakistan?
Why is it difficult to talk about marital rape in Pakistan?


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This year, the TV drama ‘Qasa Mehr Bano Ka’ was in much discussion due to one of its dialogues. In one scene, the wife says to her husband, “The cruelty done in the name of love and marriage is cruelty.” The background of this conversation was that the husband had sex with the wife without her consent and will. While the TV drama was highly praised for dealing with a sensitive topic like marital rape, it was also heavily criticized. In this regard, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “Let’s stand up and raise our voices in support of women’s rights.” Includes marital rape.

Why is it difficult to talk about marital rape in Pakistan?

In many developed countries of the world, marital rape is not only considered violence at the social level, but strict laws have also been made against it. But there is very little talk about this topic in Pakistani. Farzana Bari, a women’s rights activist and former head of the gender studies department at Quaid-e-Azam University, sees its roots in a patriarchal society. Speaking to DW Urdu, he said, “The structure of our society is still firmly based on centuries-old patriarchal values, in which the role of women is limited to satisfying the man and producing his heir.” A woman is not considered an equal human being in any social contract including marriage.

“Our society still doesn’t agree on safe sex,” she says, adding that marital rape adds salt to patriarchal values. So it is not tolerated. It is considered a conspiracy of Jews and Hindus and against their social values. That is why people are afraid. Social pressure does not allow women to raise their voices against violence against them.

What do the laws say about marital rape in Pakistan?

Prominent lawyer and social intellectual associated with Islamabad High Court Asif Mehmood while talking to DW Urdu says, “Marital rape will also be considered as rape according to Section 375 of the Pakistan Penal Code.” The Ordinance included a marital relationship as an exception to the definition of rape, but was later removed. Now if the act is done against someone’s will or by coercion or consent is obtained by threat of death or physical harm, it will be rape.

A man’s obedience is obligatory on a woman, Khalid Masood

Asif Mahmood agrees that there are conflicting views on whether marital rape should be considered rape or torture. Dr. Khalid Masood, a member of the Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court and former chairman of the Islamic Ideology Council, while talking to DW Urdu, says, “The status of men and women is not equal in jurisprudence, so it is not called rape in our laws.” Rather, it is the responsibility of the woman to fulfill the needs of the man.” He further said that in the marriage relationship, the woman becomes the property of the man and when the separation is done, then the obedience of the man is mandatory for her. , that is why it is called Bait-ul-Ta’a, “There are many arguments due to which the forced sexual act of a husband on his wife cannot be considered as rape.”

The rules are not clear

Amna Asif, a legal adviser associated with the Punjab Commission on Status of Women, a provincial institution established for the protection of women and solving their problems, says that these laws are not clear, there is ambiguity in them. Speaking to DW Urdu, he said that when there is legal complexity, it becomes very difficult to talk about such issues in public and to try to remedy them, “so clear legislation is needed.” There is a dire need. There is a need to work at both the legal and social levels to prevent marital rape.”

How can awareness be spread in society?

Dr. Farzana Bari says that curriculum and media can play an important role in this matter. He said that these things should be included in the curriculum at some level, “This will make boys aware that doing so is inhumane and violent, while girls will be aware of their rights.” When women don’t know that their rights are being violated, how will they raise their voice,” she adds, adding, “The media has desensitized many sensitive issues. So marital rape should be written about, shown, spoken about. TV dramas and movies should be made on this subject. Until there is no talk, there will be no talk.”

What steps should governments take?

Amina Asif says that when governments are not interested in this matter, the atmosphere against marital rape will not be smooth on a large scale. . Why even if a complaint ever comes to them, they look at the victim woman with strange eyes as if she is committing a crime. Because the officers themselves don’t know what kind of inhumane behavior this is. Awareness should be broadened, “to include the health sector so that it can help the affected woman on a psychological level.”

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