Women and Justice: Location

Domestic Case Law

The State, Mai and others v. The State, Abdul Khaliq and others Supreme Court of Pakistan (2011)

Sexual violence and rape

In this highly publicised case, the Supreme Court considered ten matters - eight are appeals by the victim against the acquittal of the accused rapists; one appeal has been filed by the convicted and the one is a suo moto action of the Court recalling the judgement in the gang-rape case that acquitted five of the six accused. Fourteen men were indicted in the gang rape of Mukhtar Mai in 2002, undertaken in revenge for an alleged breach of decorum by her brother and sanctioned by a panchayat (village council). Ultimately, eight of the accused were acquitted due to lack of evidence, and the remaining six were given death sentences by the trial court. The High Court then acquitted five of the six and converted the death sentence of the last accused to a life sentence. The petition of the victim asserts that, amongst other things, it is erroneous to hold that the delay in lodging of a complaint is fatal to the prosecution case. The petition also asserts that it is erroneous to hold that the testimony of a rape victim requires corroboration. In this case there was a conclusive medical report confirming rape and the rape did not take place in private (as a matter of fact, the victim was thrown out of the room partially undressed for all to see). The Court set aside the acquittals and sentenced them on each count to imprisonment for ten years, running concurrently.

The Case of Naila Farhat Supreme Court of Pakistan (2009)

Acid violence

The acid violence case of Mst. Naila Farhat was brought in November 2008. In 2003, the perpetrator sprayed acid on the (then) 13 year old victim’s face in retaliation for her refusal of a marriage proposal. Ultimately, he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and ordered to pay 1.2 million rupees in damages. However on appeal to the High Court, the Judge stated that if he paid the fine he would not be imprisoned. In April 2009, the victim appealed to the Supreme Court and was the first case on an acid attack to reach the Supreme Court. The case was heard by the Chief Justice at his own initiative on the 20 November 2009, not only highlighting the concept of acid violence (and giving the perpetrator a higher sentence than the first lower court as well as imposing a fine), but there were also important recommendations given to the government for (a) providing free medical treatment and legal aid to acid/burn victims to facilitate their recovery; and (b) the development of relevant legislation to specifically deal with acid violence in Pakistan. The case lead to the creation of the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill.

The Case of Amina Ahmed Sessions Court, Vehari Multan (2014)

Sexual violence and rape

Two men were sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl in 2011. The court acquitted two suspects due to lack of conclusive evidence. The victim, Amina Ahmed, had gone missing from her home in Luddan village on December 26, 2011. Her dismembered body was found three days later and an autopsy confirmed that the victim was gang-raped and murdered. Luddan police arrested four suspects within 72 hours. During interrogation, two of the accused (Zareef and Faisal), confessed that they had kidnapped the girl and raped her for three days as “part of their new-year celebrations”. The accused said they murdered the victim and later dismembered her body on the belief that the victim was a prostitute. After two and a half years of proceedings, the Sessions Court found them guilty of the rape and murder and sentenced them to death. They were also fined Rs300,000 each, to be paid to the legal heirs of the victim as compensation.

The Case of Fauzia Parveen Supreme Court of Pakistan (2013)

Sexual violence and rape

Proceedings were initiated on basis of a press clipping dated 4th November, 2013, indicating the gang rape of a deaf dumb woman, Mst. Fauzia Parveen who took it upon herself to go to the Magistrate when no one believed her and submitted an application for a medical examination (which was ultimately granted and conducted clearly revealing evidence of rape). The Court determined that the facts support the allegation of rape and also that the police were negligent in dealing with the matter and tried to cover up their negligence. The Court notes that, regardless of the inconsistency regarding the number of men who raped the victim, “as per the medical report the happening of the incident cannot be denied”. Quite importantly, the Court seeks accountability for the incident and confirms police negligence in handling the complaint (e.g., the victim’s statement was not properly documented by the investigating officers). The Court goes so far as to say, “Prima facie, we are of the opinion that the police has been influenced on account of extraneous reasons, because no action has been taken either by the police or the high ups, despite the fact that the matter was brought to their notice.” The Court directed the Inspector General Police, Punjab to initiate an independent investigation and criminal proceedings against the negligent police officers and involved officials.

Muhammad Siddique v. State High Court of Pakistan (2002)

Harmful traditional practices, Honor crimes (or honour crimes)

Murder conviction for father's honor killing of daughter, son-in-law and grandchild upheld on the grounds that an honor killing is murder. The Court found that "[n]o tradition is sacred, no convention is indispensable and no precedent worth emulation if it does not stand the test of civil society's fundamental principles. In particular, the law must reflect changing needs and promote social progress. Accordingly, any judicial response to S's crime must serve as a deterrent.  Any other response could amount to appeasement or endorsement since a society which fails to effectively punish such offenders becomes privy to their crimes."

Muhammad Akram Khan v. State Supreme Court of Pakistan (2001)

Harmful traditional practices, Honor crimes (or honour crimes)

The Supreme Court for the first time ever approached the issue of honor killings from a victim's rights perspective. The Court found that no one had the right to take law into their own hands to take a life in the name of ghairat. The Court stated that "neither the land nor the religion permits so-called honour killing, which amounts to murder simpliciter." The Court added that such a murder was a violation of the Fundamental right to life of the victim as enshrined in Article 9 of the Constitution, which states that no person would be deprived of life and liberty except in accordance with law and any custom or usage in that respect is void under Article 8(I) of the Constitution.