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Fareeda's Fate: Rape, Prison And 25 Lashes

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(www.)"observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1874191,00.html"]Link[/url]

 

Fareeda's fate: rape, prison and 25 lashes

 

Up to 80 per cent of women in Pakistan's jails are charged under rules that penalise rape victims. But hardliners have vetoed an end to the Islamic laws

 

Dan McDougall in western Pakistan

Sunday September 17, 2006

The Observer

 

 

In the blinding white desert sunlight in a farm courtyard on the outskirts of the ancient town of Shekhupura, Fareeda nervously passes a green silk hijab between her fingers. Unusually for a young Pakistani woman, her fingernails are not pristine and carefully painted but chewed, cracked and grubby.

Fareeda says she feels safe here - a safe house for rape victims run by a local NGO. Littered with rusting motorcycle carcases and parts of discarded fridges and cookers, it feels like a scrapyard.

 

The story of this 19-year-old's journey here is horrifying. In spring 2005 she was raped by her family's neighbour, a postman, and his teenage son. She fell pregnant - and later miscarried - as a result. Her mistake was to tell her parents. With their consent, under Pakistan's orthodox Islamic laws, she was charged with fornication outside marriage and sentenced to 100 lashes, later reduced to 50 and then 25 because of her age, and sent to jail. After four months her prison ordeal ended when a family friend secretly paid a bribe. Her plight is not unique.

 

According to a recent report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a woman is gang-raped every eight hours in the country. However, because of social taboos, discriminatory laws and the treatment of victims by police, campaigners believe the real figure is far higher. Women who report their rapists remain more likely to go to prison themselves than see justice, so most cases are never reported. Women who are raped can face legal difficulties anywhere in the world, but human rights groups remain particularly concerned over Pakistan's record. Their alarm is centred on enforcement of the 'Hudood ordinances', a complex set of Koranic laws whose name is derived from hud meaning 'punishment'. Similar sharia laws have existed in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan for centuries, but Pakistan's were enacted by former President Zia ul-Haq only in 1979, as part of his radical attempt to 'Islamicise' the country.

 

The legislation has always been full of legal ambiguities, and none more so than the Zina ordinance which deals with adultery, premarital sex and rape. The maximum punishment for adultery is stoning to death for married people and 100 lashes for the unwed.

 

For a rape trial to go ahead in Pakistan, four adult Muslim men, 'all of a pious and trustworthy nature', must have witnessed the attack and be willing to testify. Evidence from female and non-Muslim witnesses is considered worthless. A woman who can't produce those witnesses can be prosecuted for fornication and alleging a false crime, the penalties for which are stoning, lashings or prison.

 

Last week, despite claims by President General Pervez Musharraf that he was willing to reform the way rape is handled, as part of his much-trumpeted 'enlightened moderation', hardliners in the Pakistani parliament refused to sanction the introduction of a bill that would have ended the archaic laws. The vetoed legislation, the Women Protection Bill, proposed to transfer rape and adultery cases from the Islamic legal system to Pakistan's British-influenced secular penal code. The bill would have scrapped the most controversial element of the law, the need for four male witnesses. Women's rights campaigners, who marched in their thousands in Islamabad last week, claim that up to 80 per cent of women in Pakistan's jails face charges related to the Hudood ordinances and accuse the international community of ignoring the issue.

 

Yesterday Pakistan's government announced it would now ask a parliamentary committee to review the repeatedly delayed bill.

 

Lawyers who handle such cases say the legislation is mainly used as a means of revenge by parents whose daughters have refused arranged marriages, or by husbands in divorce cases. In conservative rural areas, where family honour is paramount, many parents file charges against children who defy tradition to choose their own partners.

 

'Violence against women is a universal problem,' said Kamila Hyat of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. 'Many governments have taken serious steps to deal with it, Pakistan hasn't. There are thousands of victims of rape and few of them have come close to getting justice; many have been punished for their plight. Simply bringing a rape case to court is widely considered in itself a confession of unlawful sexual intercourse outside marriage.'

 

But defenders of Hudood claim it is more of a deterrent than anything else, and the penalties are rarely invoked. 'We don't think Hudood laws are against human rights,' said Dr Mirajul Huda, from Jamaat-e-Islami, the biggest group in the six-party Islamist alliance that forced the legislative climbdown. 'They prevent people going to the limits. They put an obstacle on all types of obscenity and protect society.'

 

For Musharraf, who has survived several assassination attempts since his 1999 military coup and has repeatedly angered Muslim clerics by allying himself with the US, the climbdown is seen as an attempt to placate hardliners. But it plays to fears of what some commentators call a 'creeping Talibanisation' across Pakistan. His supporters claim that Musharraf, who heads a fragile coalition, has taken some action. Several months ago he issued a decree making 1,300 women awaiting trial on Hudood violations eligible for bail, but The Observer has discovered that fewer than 400 of those have been released.

 

'The ordinance is like a sword hanging over the heads of all the women of Pakistan,' said Dr Rubina Saigol, director of Actionaid Pakistan, which gives shelter and legal support to victims of violence. 'It is tragic that the government has reneged on the reforms. Women's rights are not negotiable.'

 

For Sharma Zia, another victim in the safe house, it is unlikely the fear of being raped again will go away. 'I know I can't stay here for ever,' she says. 'My home town isn't that far away, but I can't return. The men who raped me live close to my parents and even they took the side of my rapists. My allegations only brought them shame. Sometimes I feel like I only bring people shame. I wish I could leave, go abroad, but I know that will never happen.'

 

 

 

 

 

WOW !! That sucks. Why would there even be any women left in Pakistan, with that kind of twisted treatment going on ? All I can say is "RUN, LADIES, RUN" !!!

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PropellerAds

sigh....those laws are not Islamic. They are degrating laws disguised as shariah. If you consult any reputable scholar you will see they are not implementing shariah, but a form of law that opresses women.

 

Peace

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If this is not actual sharia law, why are the scholars and clerics not willing to change the law? There must be some basis in sharia/koranic law, otherwise the ordinances simply would not exist.

It seems the religiously minded are the ones fighting for the continuation of these hudood ordinances. Why do they hate their own women so much? These are their own mothers, daughters, sisters and wives.

A gang-rape every 8hrs is a shocking statistic, but to punish the victim in this barbaric fashion is simple cruelty.

It's disappointing to read that musharraf is bending to the will of these cruel "religious" leaders.

 

I have this particular edition of The Observer, and this story is accompanied by a picture of the poor girl Fareeda. She looks no more than a child.

Edited by Fear Of Flying

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If this is not actual sharia law, why are the scholars and clerics not willing to change the law? There must be some basis in sharia/koranic law, otherwise the ordinances simply would not exist.

 

I'll tell you why and you can choose to believe me or not. You'll have to bear with me though since this is going to be a long, rather winding post.

The Hudood Laws, as promulgated in Pakistan were a poisoned 'gift' from the late unlamented dictator Zia ul Haq. The damage that man did to Pakistan is too long a story to tell so I won't bother. Basically, Zia had executed a democratically elected Prime Minister and seized power. Lacking any local support, Zia decided to 'politicise' Islam and recruited the aid of the political clerics who had always opposed the dead PM and Pakistan itself for that matter. As a sop to them, he introduced the Hudood laws, which were a warped version of the Sharia Hudood laws. However, any one who opposed them was immediately labelled unislamic and thrown into jail, tortured etc etc. Also the very loud, very violent and very obnoxious Mullah Brigade was used as a political tool by Zia to crush dissent. So, Zia successfully gained a cover for his actions by a layer of official piety and an utterly cynical manipulation of Islam itself.

 

As it stands, the issue of the Hudood laws is one of the most politically divisive issues in Pakistan today. The PPP ( a major political party) and many smaller allies and rivals are united on the issue of amending the laws to remove the legal distortions while the PML (N) and the MMA are opposing them. The MMA is what the political mullahs who supported Zia have mutated into. They are an obscurantist, hypocritical and downright evil bunch of people who I can't really describe in terms that would do them justice because the language would get me banned. I would not call them scholars OR clerics. I would call them evil misogynist (sp) ignorant scumbags. Lately there was an intense public debate on the Hudood laws between politicians, the public, REAL Islamic scholars and lawyers etc etc. It was televised in a series on a national News channel GEO TV. The conclusion was that the laws are completely opposed to Islam and are malafide. Since then, numerous bills have been tabled in the National Assembly by the present govt. to amend the laws. Unfortunately, Musharraf seems to be using the amended bill simply to divide the opposition (the PPP and the MMA only agree on one thing...removing Musharraf). It is the people of Pakistan, and especially the women of Pakistan who still suffer as a result. I'm no great fan of Musharraf, but if he actually amends these laws I will be his lifelong supporter. Let's see what happens. Somehow he always backs down to the MMA when he should in fact be running them into the ground. Unfortuantely, elements in the ruling party are so terrified of a PPP comeback that they will support even the MMA if it means keeping the PPP at a distance. It's complicated politically. In short, anyone who supports the law as it stands is my enemy and those who oppose it are my allies.

 

 

As far as the basis in Quranic Law, the basis DOES exist, but it was sorely and DELIBERATELY misinterpreted by Zia.

Here it is in a nutshell.

In Sharia the term 'zina' is used for adultery, which is considered a crime. Now, someone accusing a woman of adultery is required to come up with four adult muslim eyewitnesses to the adultery. Now, practically speaking this is not possible unless she was shagging in the middle of the bazaar or something, which she is unlikely to do.

 

In Zia's laws (which were not passed through parliament btw) the definition of Zina is stretched to include rape. This now means that in order to prove an allegation of rape a woman is required to produce those eyewitnesses. See the problem? Therefore, if a woman reports rape, it is possible that, in the absence of those eyewitnesses, she stands accused of adultery instead. for more info check these links:

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.globalwebpost(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/farooqm/writings/gender/rape_fiqh.html"]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.globalwebpost(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/farooqm/writi.../rape_fiqh.html[/url]

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.dawn(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/2006/06/28/nat1.htm"]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.dawn(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/2006/06/28/nat1.htm[/url]

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.chowk(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/show_article.cgi?aid=00003220&channel=civic%20center"]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.chowk(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/show_article.cgi?aid=...=civic%20center[/url]

 

There you go.

Now I realise this is probably an exercise in futility. Diverdown is pretty much just a troll, and not a very good one at that. He's crude and only partially educated I fear. FearofFlying, I know you hate all muslims and Islam itself for what happened to your sibling. I cannot blame you. If God forbid something like that had happened to me I don't know how I would react, but it would probably be more extreme than your reaction as far as I can see it. Nevertheless, when the Hudood laws come up I have to make my point. Here it is.

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If this is not actual sharia law, why are the scholars and clerics not willing to change the law?

 

Why do they hate their own women so much? These are their own mothers, daughters, sisters and wives.

 

A gang-rape every 8hrs is a shocking statistic, but to punish the victim in this barbaric fashion is simple cruelty.

 

I feel for the poor girl and i cant wait until pakistani law changes to chop up these men like they deserve to be...

 

scholars, clerics... the day i find one i can honestly trust i shall be soooo happy.... the alternative name used for them is 'scholar for hire'

 

maybe some parts of pakistan are like this but where my family come (punjab side), if anyone even dared to rape then theyd lose thier manhood sharpish

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... Diverdown is pretty much just a troll, and not a very good one at that. He's crude and only partially educated I fear. ...

 

 

 

 

Sticks and stones...

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I feel for the poor girl and i cant wait until pakistani law changes to chop up these men like they deserve to be...

:D

Am with you on that.

:D

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Ozymandias

Thank you for your heartfelt response. In the short period of time i have been on this forum i must say that is the most genuine and informative post i have read.

 

From what little i have read about General Zia i have no reason to disbelieve your cutting synopsis of the man or his administration. It's a shame that almost 20yrs after his death, the country has failed to move forward and address this issue.

 

I'm sure most Pakistanis (and members of this forum) would not have a favourable view of General Musharraf, for obvious reasons. However if we can put foreign affairs to one side, do you not agree that the man does have visionary ideas for the internal workings of his country?

He did promise a democratic election after gaining power, which he has yet to deliver, but if he can find the strength to fight the sinister clerics on the issue of the Hudood Ordinances, i believe that his country would take an immense step forward.

 

It is true that i do have my issues with muslims and Islam, which does sometimes border on an unhealthy bitterness. However, i am a human and this particular example of human suffering disgusts me. I have female family members and female friends whom i love dearly and the thought of anything happening to them fills me with dread, especially after losing my sister.

These women in pakistan are the most vulnerable members of their society and should be protected at all costs. To have their own families and community elders treat them in this way leaves me heartbroken, Who exactly are they supposed to turn to?

 

I am not using this point as another stick with which to beat muslims, this issue is far too important to be used in a trivial manner.

I find it comforting to read that some muslims feel the same way as i about this issue. Of course not all muslims would be happy to see the back of these archaic ways, but it's nice to know that there are some that would.

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I'm sure most Pakistanis (and members of this forum) would not have a favourable view of General Musharraf, for obvious reasons. However if we can put foreign affairs to one side, do you not agree that the man does have visionary ideas for the internal workings of his country?

He did promise a democratic election after gaining power, which he has yet to deliver, but if he can find the strength to fight the sinister clerics on the issue of the Hudood Ordinances, i believe that his country would take an immense step forward.

 

Thank you for your reply,

I'm actually not that anti-Musharraf even on the foreign policy front, though I do have some reservations. Leaving aside foreign policy, most Pakistanis were quite happy when he took over, kicking out the criminally thick Nawaz Sharif. We thought he was a blunt straight talking, but most oimportantly sincere person. We had a lot of hopes that he would deliver on the numerous promises he has made, but unfortunately even if we DO consider that he is sincere, he is only one man in an entrenched establishment. The real problem arises from his unwilingness to compromise with the PPP which is the single largest politrical party in Pakistan with a moderate agenda and which cuts across all ethnic lines. Also, the AFghan War took place during Zia's era and an alliance was forged between the intelligence services and the radical mullahs to recruit train and send people to fight the USSR in Afghanistan. They were funded by the USA, Saudi Arabia and other states as well as private sources. The rest as they say, is history. However, the alliance with the mullahs remained in place.

I'll be honest here, all states act in their perceived self-interest and with a hostile India, a secure Afghanistan is a necessity for Pakistan. Hence, when the Russians withdrew and Afghanistan descended into civil war we naturally armed the factions which were marginally less anti-Pakistan. This eventually culminated in the Taliban of course, and while I was never a big fan of theirs, and the fact that they scare the crap out of civil society in Pakistan, the fact is that they did restore order to what had become a complete anarchic hellhole. Of course, being mostly uneducated they took things way too far and they also managed to shoot themselves in the foot a little while later, but that's another issue. Heck, we told em to give up Bin Laden but they didn't listen. That's blowback for you I guess. "We teach bloody instructions which being taught return to plague the inventor (Macbeth)"

Am wnadering now. Yes I would love to see Mush repeal the laws, but I am no longer convinced of his sincerity. I think he has matured into a cynical manipulator...in short, he has become a politician.

The MMA by the way is also known in some circles as the 'Mullah-Military alliance" and in the last gen electoins, had so many curbs not been placed on the mainstream parties, they would not have made the strong showing that they did. This leads people to believe that there is in fact a covert deal between them and the agencies. Also, one of the leaders of the MMA is also known as 'Mullah Sandwich', based on the strong rumour that the intelligence agencies have tapes of him, a prostitute and his male driver in a three-way 'sandwich', so he is in fact beholden to the Agencies. I personally believe Mush only used the Hudood amendmewnt to divide the combined opposition. He knew the Mullahs would oppose and that the PPP would have no choice but to support the government, thus dividing the opposition badly. Also, the govt-sponsored political party PML-Q is terrifies of a Mush-PPP deal and so they also joined the MMA who are nominally their enemies.Theres much more complication as well, but I don't want to bore you furter with intricate Pakistani politics, its all tied up with the whole regoin and makes my head explode even on good days. At least now you can see why we're such a cynical, conspiracy believing lot...its only because its not paranoia if they really ARE out to get you!

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Fear of Flying

 

I hope you dont mind me butting into the conversation, but theres a few things i wanted to clarify, which brother Ozy had mistaken/missed out (hope you dont mind Oz), the shairah huddud laws is legally applicaiable to both men and women, not just women. Secondly, 'Zina' is not just adultury, its all forms sexual sins, from pre-martial/outside of marriage sex, adultury, watching pornography. And for adultury and pre-martial/outside of sex marriage, before any punishment can be applied, there needs to be:

 

a. crediable witnesses (of sound mind and faith) who saw the act commited

b. an Islamic ruiling body

c. an Islamic state

 

There are proabably some more points, but im not an expert. I dont think the huddod laws can be applied without the proper Islamic state and leadership in postion that could make sure that all the laws being properly regulated/applied. An indivudal cannot take it upon themself to apply the huddud laws (or any shariah law for that matter)

 

Also, Islam calls for redemption and salvation to the creator. All sins ,including adultury are forgiven if one sincerly repents and the prophet s.a.w always went for forgiveness, then punishment. Infact, there are only a few examples where it is mentioned in the hadiths (narrations/sayins of the prophet s.a.w) where the stoning punishment was dished out for adultury. One famous narration was regarding a women who had commited adultury and came to the prophet s.a.w and asked to be given the correct Islamic punishment for what she had did. She was not coherced or anything to confess and came of her own free will and the prophet s.a.w asked her repeatly to make sure that she sure about what she had said and and she did, insisting that she wanted to face the consequences of her actions in this life, rather then the next. The prophet s.a.w told her to come back when she had stopped the full cycle of breastfeeding her child. She did and was then given the huddod punishment for adultury. [if i've made a mistake in the narriation, then someone please correct it for me]

 

The prophet s.a.w (peace be upon him) always told us to seek forgiveness first with Allah when having committed a sin.

 

Regarding rape, there is no sin amongst the person who was raped, only to the one who commited the rape and shariah law is very clear on the punishment for rapist and that is death.

 

What tends to happen though in most countries is that very few rapists are conivted and often the raped victim (most likely a woman) is blamed. This doesnt only happen in Pakistain, it happens all over the world, including the western hemisphere too, where most of us in the forum live. All socities are pretty much patraical in some way and there is still the mentality, east and west that when a woman is raped, she was asking/wanting it in some way.

 

Conviction for rape is very low in the U.K (where im from and i suspect your from too) and few make it to trial as women dont come forward. This was actually mentioned a while back in the news and they created some new section/organistaion of lawyers within the CPS to deal with rape and convictions specifcally because of the very low conviction rate, despite the high numbers of rape being reported. When they do stand trial, those repsresnting the rapist, make the victim look like they led the rapist on, wore certain clothes which encrouaged them etc.. Obviously thats to discreit them, but it makes it much harder for women to come forward, if they're going to be faced with that and made to think that they were responsiable for the rape.

 

There was a case in Scotland i think, where a 16/17 year old girl was raped by a 14 yr old boy after walking home one afternoon. He tried to chat her up, she said no and he raped her. Anyways, it got to trial and the defence of the boy, held up (according to news reports) a picture of the thong she wore underneath her jeans. The defense bascially made it out that because she wore a thong underneath her jeans, she was calling out for him in some way, trying to attract him. The girl burst into tears appreantly as the defense made her sound like a cheap so and so. Thankfully the boy got convicted in this case and was sent down, but tragically the girl commited sucide one week later after the boy was sentaced. She was made to feel that she deserved to be raped by defense barriasters and took her own life. This is one case, but if we were to look deeper into the british judical system regarding rape, we'll find that this isnt something new. 20 years ago, women would come to the police and policemen would be sceptical regarding a woman being raped and to a certain degree that attuitde and mentality is still there. Although, yes, we're nowhere near as bad as Pakistan in this regard, but its still not good.

 

I think the attuide towards rape and female victims, whatever race or religion, wont change until men's attitudes change, because the judical process, from police to the judges are dominated by men to a certain degree and you'll find that many of them are very arachcial in their thinking.

 

I do hope, like most sensiable thinking muslims that the pakistan 'zina' laws are reversed as they are barbaric and replusive in every senses. As well as being completly aganist the principles of Islam and a gross perversion of the true Islamic laws, however i suspect it'll take some time. The good thing though is, that many pakistanis are standing up to this law and know that things need to change. For us elsewhere, like us in the U.K, we also need to do our own fair share in Britian and do something about our system and how it responds (or lack of it) to rape and how its dealt with through the legal system.

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:D brother Ozzy and sister Summer

 

Very well thought-out answers. No sane person would ever blame the rape-victims.

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:D

 

The thing about Pakistan is that there really is no Law there.

People are murdered every day, but the authorities do nothing.

It seems that in pakistan it is a crime to be poor, as poor peopel dont really have any real rights.

I feel soo bad for all thouse innocent pople in Pakistani jails (men and women).

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:D

 

The thing about Pakistan is that there really is no Law there.

People are murdered every day, but the authorities do nothing.

It seems that in pakistan it is a crime to be poor, as poor peopel dont really have any real rights.

I feel soo bad for all thouse innocent pople in Pakistani jails (men and women).

:D

Very true and very very sad. There is one law for the rich and powerful and quite a different one for everyone else. Its disgusting and it is every little bit our own fault. And then these same leaders have the audacity to talk about Islam and the Ummah and have huge rallies condemning all sorts of things happening elsewhere and local non-issues but do not have the courage to look at themselves. These are the wages of sin, this is the outcome of dictatorship and this is one of the root causes of teror. But Inshallah we are improving slowly and we will get over this in the end.

 

:D

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which brother Ozy had mistaken/missed out (hope you dont mind Oz),

 

 

 

 

:D

No, thanks for adding all that stuff. My explanation was mostly political but you've gone more in depth. You are correct that the definition of Zina is beyond simple adultery. In fact, even masturbation is a form of zina (Zina-bil-Yudh) I think. But luckily no one actually goes to jail for it or 90% males everwhere would be in the clink.

:D

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Summer Girl

 

You are quite correct that the British judicial system could do more in terms of conviction rates for rape. Although rape victims do receive counselling and support, there is still a taboo for rape victims which is sometimes exploited by defence lawyers. This is however changing.

There are more women within the judicial system, and as you rightly point out the whole process is currently under review. I think the UK has taken great strides in the last 20 yrs to ensure rape victims a fair trial. It is far from perfect, but we are getting there.

I think your generalisation of men is quite wide of the mark. If any man in the judiciary were to deliberately make light of a rape case there would be severe consequences. I think it's sad that you don't feel you could trust a policeman if (heaven forbid) you were to ever find yourself in such a situation.

 

However this should not deflect from the issue of the hudood ordinances. They are completely incomparable issues.

I'm afaid what goes on in Pakistan is not common throughout the world, and should not be treated as such.

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I'm afaid what goes on in Pakistan is not common throughout the world, and should not be treated as such.

 

No, a parallel with the hudood laws in Pakistan cannot be drawn. One could draw a parallel between general attitudes, but the fact is that I would personally trust the British legal system over the Pakistani legal system, all things being equal.

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