Blasphemy laws: 58% of women booked are Muslims

Published: December 1, 2010
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33 of the 38 women to go on trial are from the Punjab

33 of the 38 women to go on trial are from the Punjab

LAHORE: 22 of a total of 38 women booked under the blasphemy laws are Muslims, data obtained from different organisations by The Express Tribune reveals.

The data also shows that 14 out of the 38 women booked under the blasphemy laws were Christian. A Hindu and an Ahamdi were also among those accused of blasphemy.

Dr Mehdi Hasan, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) chairperson, said that around 80 per cent of those accused of blasphemy were falsely implicated. “Many people get a blasphemy case registered against their opponents because of property issues or other personal or family vendetta,” said Hasan.

Syed Mumtaz Alam Gilani, the federal minister for human rights, said that more and more Muslims were using the laws to settle scores with fellow Muslims. “Currently, there are around 42 cases in which Muslims have registered FIRs against Muslims,” the minister said. Gilani also said that a parliamentary committee was trying to come up with proposals to ensure that the laws are not misused.

Records of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Ministry of Human Rights, also show that 37 of these women were booked between 1990 and 2010 while only one case was registered in 1987.

33 women of the 38 are from the Punjab.

Cases against six were registered in Lahore, five in Sheikhupura, four in Kasur, two in Rawalpindi and two in Gujranwala.

According to the record available, a Mrs Krishna was the only one to have been booked from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Akhtari Begum and Tabassum Malkana from Sindh and a Zaibun Nisa from Islamabad. The location of one Bushra Taseer booked under 295-C in 1996 was not clear from the records.

Nazia, Zaibun Nisa, Nasreen Bibi and Naseem Bibi were acquitted.

An ‘un-discriminatory’ law

There have been at least two cases, in which mentally-challenged women were also booked for blasphemy.

Zaibun Nisa, a mentally-challenged Muslim accused, was released after 14 years in prison. The Lahore High Court acquitted the 60-year-old on July 22, 2010.

In another case, Naseem Bibi, another mentally challenged person, was acquitted after eight months of being accused of blasphemy.

Acquitted not compensated

A case was registered against Nazia in June 2009 under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code in Kharian. Nazia, a Christian, always maintained that she did not desecrate the Quran, as was alleged. Soon after the registration of a case against her, she was socially boycotted and had to live alone for six months. The issue was resolved by local elders who found her ‘innocent’. Following that finding the case was dropped. “I hadn’t done anything of the kind and I was happy when the case was dropped. But the time as a person accused of blasphemy was the most difficult one,” she says.

Nasreen Bibi of Kabirwala was convicted and awarded life imprisonment but her conviction was later over turned by the Supreme Court.

However, none of the women acquitted filed for damages.

Peter Jacob, the Justice and Peace Commission of the Pakistani Church secretary, said that the women did not file defamation or damages suits against complainants because “they do not want the social pressure”. On how to ensure that the laws are not used to settle personal scores, Jacob added, “There should be a penalty for the complainant if his accusations cannot be proven in court. But this is just a safeguard. These laws have many weaknesses.” The secretary said that amendments proposed by Sherry Rehman to the bill that she has recently submitted in the National Assembly were a step in the right direction.

The bill proposes amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, the two main sources of criminal law, calls for a clearer definition of the term ‘blasphemy’. The bill also calls for rationalising the criminal procedure, which includes the concept of premeditation or intent.

One of the most important changes the bill proposes is that it calls for the abolition of the mandatory death penalty.

Another amendment proposed proposes that the complainant take full responsibility if the accusations levelled by him are proven to be false.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2010.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • tanvir ali
    Dec 1, 2010 - 10:32AM

    this barbaric discriminatory law reeks of medieval mentality,does islam come under threat if a woman utters something,does a person have to be put to death for expressing their views,why this irrational,blind,zombie like adherence to antedulivian rituals & practices,why can’t we ppl start to think rationally & logically & not follow mullahs like mindless sheep.

    we need to start behaving like rational human beings with the ability to critically analyse things rather than behaving like savage,barbaric animals who chop off hands,behead ppl & stone & flog women.Recommend

  • shy
    Dec 1, 2010 - 11:28AM

    Unfriendly society n selfish authorities for Cristian and ahmadies. Recommend

  • Zuhair
    Dec 1, 2010 - 11:40AM

    Hold on Tanvir Ali before you use the word ‘ barbaric animals’. Do you know it is ALLAH’s law – he told all of us that the holy prophet should be dearer to you more than your parents or anything else. We see people citing Fateh Makkah’s example a lot – but those who know the whole story – the fact is that 3 people were killed during that as there was mercy for everybody but not for the one who insulted the holy prophet and the holy prophet himself ordered to kill such a person even if he is hiding inside the kaba walls. Chopping off hands is not barbaric, it is meant to reduce the crime rate and the holy prophet did the same – so think twice before you speak instead of just trying to be a liberal fascist.

    Hazrat Ali Razi Alla also killed four people on blasphemy of the holy prophet – now call it barbaric if you would. there are countries where you cant speak against the holocaust – but you think that’s just fine – and if we do something in the love of the holy prophet, you start getting goosebumps.Recommend

  • M M Malik
    Dec 1, 2010 - 12:42PM

    Islamic teachings are to protect the weak and not to abuse the meek. The blasphemy laws are doing exactly the opposite. Recommend

  • Asif
    Dec 1, 2010 - 2:00PM

    This debate has been started after the Comments given by the Pope of Cristians.

    1. I want to ask what do your comments mean. Are you people muslim. Do you know about the complete Court hearing?

    2. Our court was blind who SENTENCED HER TO DEATH?

    3. The girl Asia BiBi has become Innoent coz POPE and all west is backing her up?

    We should trust our courts. They are very experienced people who make decisions.

    Please Stop backing this Culprit women and Pray that she should be hanged 10 times.

    Our Government and specialy Ms. Sheren Rehan and “Zardari” should understand that “One day Life of a “Lion” is better than the 100 years life of a Jackal”.

    Please make think and make comments realistically.Recommend

  • T R Khan
    Dec 1, 2010 - 5:44PM

    The above comments are poles apart. On one pole someone want her to hang ten times and on the other pole there is no punishment. 1450 of Islamic teachings and we still have not solved this basic question.Recommend

  • muhammed
    Dec 1, 2010 - 6:34PM

    Asif,
    If India places such a law if somebody says anything defaming Lord Krishna , anytime Our family would be in Jail .Do you trust RSS after such a law in INdia…But India doesnt favour any religion and that is her Hallmark of Great country .

    Second if in UK,US if they have such laws who says anything against Jesus ,the whole pakistan diaspora would be back in pakistan fearing right wing lunatics..

    you will not care for your muslim brethren in India I know .But Allah will judge .. Inshallah!Recommend

  • Syed Mustafa Zaidi
    Dec 1, 2010 - 10:11PM

    SHAME on the religious cum political parties. Speciallt Jammat e Islami & All Groups of Jamee yate Ulama e Islam. I would love know as to where Quran says blasphemy is punishable by deathor from any Hadith. Recommend

  • Dec 1, 2010 - 10:51PM

    let god punish culprits and hands offRecommend

  • John Bosco
    Dec 2, 2010 - 1:56AM

    What is the ratio of minoritiaes in Pakistan it is approx 3% and if you compare this 42% is very high.Recommend

  • Zuhair
    Dec 2, 2010 - 10:18AM

    Hey John Bosco – this is a childish comment – whatever is the minorities ratio to do with it – it only makes common sense that the non-Muslims will stand a higher chance of doing this than the Muslims. Its no rocket science really.

    P.s. @John Bosco – are you a patrician from the 99 batch?Recommend

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