Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa has lamented that the law fails to protect women from false accusations of fornication, saying that women are often slandered and then murdered on the basis of mere suspicion about their ‘character’.
He said the the Offence of Qazf Ordinance of 1979 had been formulated to provide women with Quranic protection against slander, however it had not fulfilled its purpose.
Insteadm it had become a “dead letter law”, which meant that while the law still existed, it couldn’t and wasn’t being implemented anymore due to a change in circumstances.
The justice said that more often than not, the accuser is a male relative from the woman’s own family, either her husband, brother or father, and sometimes, they all collude together to carry out the crime, covering up for each other and preventing the truth to come out.
He made these observations during a hearing for a post-arrest bail for a case where a 37-year-old woman had been murdered on the pretext of honor.
The Regional Police Officer (RPO) Mardan involved in the case revealed that despite having 50 female constables in his department, he did not have a single female police officer who could conduct investigations.
The bench expressed surprise over this fact, and claimed that it was crucial to have female police officers, especially for cases where the complainant or witnesses are women who might not be as comfortable speaking to male police officers.
The bench also said that they expected more female police officer in the Mardan police department, as the well-populated Mardan division comprised five districts including Swabi, Nowshera, Mardan, Charsadda and Mohmand.
The court recommended the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to adopt ‘Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Investigation of Rape Cases’ like the province of Punjab had done, as it streamlines the process of investigating rape cases more effectively.
They also asked the authorities to discuss and come up with rules and regulations that would help dealing with such cases in a more effective manner.