Pakistani Rape Victim Sentenced to Death by Stoning

Zafran Bibi is on death row, sentenced to death by stoning for having sex outside marriage. She is in solitary confinement, visited only by her one-year old daughter, who was conceived, according to Zafran, not through a consensual extra-marital affair, but through rape. Islamic law in Pakistan, however, according to the New York Times, does not distinguish between consensual sex and rape when banning “adultery,” so Zafran remains in prison, hoping to avoid execution. Zafran is not alone. Women’s rights groups and human rights workers estimate that up to 50 percent of women who report rape in Pakistan are charged with adultery, and up to 80 percent of women in jail have been convicted with the crime. The men accused, however, are rarely charged, and under the law, four males must witness a man committing rape for him to be convicted. Zafran’s alleged assailant, her brother-in-law Jamal Khan, is free today, never having been charged with any crime at all. Pakistani women’s rights activist Rukhshanda Naz says that trying to convict Khan would be nearly impossible.

Zafran’s case, however, has created an uproar in Pakistan. Public pressure has forced a higher court to call for a review of her sentence, but in the meantime, Zafran languishes in prison. Her life hangs in the balance, but even if her sentence is commuted, according to Naz, she will still face 10-15 years in prison as punishment for being raped.


New York Times, 5/17/02

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