Rahat Imran


During recent decades the women of Pakistan have been the most vulnerable and convenient targets of social, domestic and sexual violence. This paper will examine the trend of sexual violence against women that emerged in Pakistan with the introduction of the Islamization process through the implementation of the Sharia laws since1979. The paper’s main focus will be on rape and the state legislation that governs it, namely the Zina Hudood Ordinance of 1979 and the Law of Evidence of 1984, and how the gender-discriminatory nature of these laws serves as a powerful weapon in the hands of the patriarchal society of Pakistan to subjugate women. These laws and their rigid interpretation in the name of Islam have not only facilitated oppression and sexual violence against women to an alarming degree in Pakistan, but also seriously eroded women’s chances of equal justice. The factors that led to the implementation and survival of such laws in the first place, and consequently how rape became a daunting weapon against women, will be discussed. The paper will analyze the various political, social, cultural and religious factors that contribute to this situation, and the legal and social complexities involved for women in seeking justice in rape cases. In conclusion, the paper will discuss Pakistani women’s initiative in evolving and building an organized resistance and struggle for the repeal of gender discriminatory laws.

Author Biography

Rahat Imran, Graduate student at the Department of Women’s Studies, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada.