11 December 2023
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Women are raped by their husbands and Pakistan’s law acknowledges it.

Many people don’t know about the country’s rape laws, said
Maliha Zia Lari, the associate director of the Legal Aid Society. She was speaking
at a session on violence against women at the Adab Festival, 2020 in Karachi on

“There was a time when the law didn’t recognise marital
rape. The Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance, 1979 defined rape
as a man having sexual intercourse with a woman who is not his wife without her
consent,” she said. The wordings meant that a man is incapable of raping his
wife, Lari explained.

In 2006, the law was amended. The new law, Section 375 of
the Pakistan Penal Code, now says that “a man is said to commit rape who has
sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent and there is penetration,”
she added.

The change in wording shows that the country does recognise
marital rape as a punishable crime.

There, however, are other aspects of the law which people
don’t fully understand. The law gives five conditions under which a woman is
said to have been raped.

Without her consent

This means that a woman who is conscious is able to give her
consent. An unconscious woman or anyone suffering from any disability cannot
give their consent, Lari explained.

Against her will

This means that a woman was able to articulate her consent
and kept saying no but still a man forced himself on her.

Fake marriage

The third condition deals with a woman giving her consent
thinking that she is married when in reality the man has been lying to her.
This is most common in cases where men get fake marriage certificates, she

Threatening a woman

Fourth deals with obtaining a woman’s consent by threatening
her. She may be scared that if she resists, then it will pose a threat to her
life or that of her family members.

Under 16 years of age

A man who has sexual intercourse with any woman who is 16 years or younger is said to have committed rape. It doesn’t matter if she gave her consent or not, Lari added.

Abdul Gh Lone