Free the adulterers but charge the brothel owner?

If someone needs to go to mosques for religious lessons, it is the men who frequently visit brothels, not the owner.

Ahmed Raza October 04, 2012
As a morning routine, it wasn’t odd for me to pick up a newspaper and go through the daily news. What was puzzling however was the news of a ruling by the Peshawar High Court, which ordered the owner of a brothel to attend religious lessons at a local mosque.

The decision left me baffled.

There are essentially hundreds of questions which can be raised at the morality of the decision.

First of all, where did respect for the the concept of separation of powers go?

The court’s verdict underscores the issue of keeping religion and state separate, which it seems, is not possible in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Western countries have partially achieved success in keeping the church and state separate after hundreds of years of bloodshed, but this concept is still alien to Pakistan.

The inclusion of Hudood Ordinances, Sharia court and blasphemy laws highlight how the Constitution of Pakistan has been diluted with religion. The last thing we need is a judge handing punishments to suspects to visit mosques for religious lessons setting a precedence which is outside the premise of any book of law.

What is the difference between this order and the Taliban who drags people to mosques in Afghanistan and forcefully imposes a ‘personal Sharia’ version on the people?

The decision in itself is a joke for the judiciary upholding the law which is not meant to personal religious beliefs with legal judgements.  In fact, in this case, law has not been applied to be upheld in the first place. However, my discontent with the verdict does not end here. The judge handed out the punishment of going to the mosque solely to the brothel owner, thus implying that she alone was guilty.

Now, correct me if I am wrong, but what about all the adulterers who frequented this brothel? Surely they too must bear the blame, no?

If someone at all needs to be directed to go to a mosque for religious lessons, in my opinion, it is the men who frequently visit these brothels and not the owner. The owner is just providing a service; it is the men who are in fact committing the unholy act.

However, the irony is, a judge cannot hand sentences of sending the men accused of adultery to mosques, because that would be a violation of the Hudood Ordinance which states that adulterers must be stoned to death or imprisoned. I wonder why the Hudood Ordnance is not referred to while dealing with accused prostitutes. Why was there a bias in this particular case?

Moreover, if a law was applied and they were not guilty then why hand any punishment to them at all?

Since when does the judges personal religious opinion have any weight in a court of law?

To be fair, we could lend the concession of 'promoting community service' to the judge. The modern concept of community service as a punishment began in Great Britain in the late 1960s and has become increasingly popular with judges, who think they can be more flexible and humane in punishing offenders unlikely to commit another crime.

However, the same concept after giving a dash of Islam cannot be applied on a community which is already engulfed by flames of religious intolerance and extremism – it will be but infructuous.

So if it is not community service and it is not law, where exactly is one to place such a preposterous decision of sending the owner to a mosque? Furthermore, to what jurisdiction do we place the judge who seemed to have given a sermon rather than giving effect to the word of law?

Does this situation not prove that we are a confused nation?

While prostitution is illegal in Pakistan, a judge accepts the bail petition of a brothel owner, but disapproving of her activity concocts a personal punishment totally negating the books of law?

If this is not stupidity then what is?

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Ahmed Raza A resident of Abbotabbad who loves his country.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Virkaul | 11 years ago | Reply @Aijaz: People like you deserve the state in which Pakistan is today. You must cage all women in your homes, you should have Taliban type instant court flogging men and women, behead people for petty crimes and eliminate all non-Muslims from the face of earth. Such Islam will restore glory.
Virkaul | 11 years ago | Reply @Faizan: What an analysis! The first world war was due to economic and colonial reasons. The WW II was to fight fascists. The new fascists are the liberals are afraid of.
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