Aurat Publication & Information Service Foundation
Evidence in Rape Cases and the Role of Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), Karachi


Evidence in Rape Cases and the Role of Council of Islamic Ideology (CII)

Aurat Foundation’s Karachi  office organized a round table discussion on June 7, 2013, at Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi. The topic was “Evidence in Rape Cases and the Role of Council of Islamic Ideology (CII)". Ms shireen Khan welcomed the civil society, WAF members and speakers and briefed on the agenda. She explained that the topic of discussion is in reference to the statement issued in a meeting of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) held on 29th May, 2013, declaring that DNA tests are not admissible as the main evidence in rape cases. The religious scholars observed that while the tool could aid investigation into rape complaints, it could not be taken as evidence. It could, at best, serve as supplementary evidence but could not supersede the Islamic laws laid out for determining rape complaints.

Ms Uzma Noorani, member Women Action Forum (WAF) said that the purpose of this meeting was to debate on setting the criteria for issuing such statements and gather reaction/ response of the civil society. She further stated that already the conviction rate of rape cases is low, issuing such statements sends out a negative message and impact in society. Therefore, such statements have long-term repercussions and it further discourages the victims to speak out.

Mr Zain Sheikh, legal expert, in his opening remarks mentioned that this meeting was called to understand the provisions in CII and then debate its functions in the light and ambit of the 1971 Constitution of Pakistan. He referred to articles 227-231 given in Chapter 9 of the Constitution.

Mr Mohsin Naqvi, former member of CII, explained the origin of the Council of Islamic Ideology in detail. He informed the participants that CII constituted in 1962 has the role in sending recommendations to the parliament which must be taken under consideration within 6 months to 1 year. The recent Council is based more on the Ulema which have quite a different viewpoint than the former under Dr Khalid Massood who reviewed all laws to determine whether they came under Islamic ideology or not. The different ideological perspective is actually the source of problem and discontent.

Dr Rohina Hassan, Jinnah Hospital, defined the term DNA as deoxyribonucleic acid. She explained that it is located in the nuclei of cells, which make up the body. Consequently, DNA can be considered as one of the building blocks of the body. It is present in each cell of the body and has a hereditary protein component. They are formed by clusters of chromosomes packed together in a zig-zag manner.

Ms Anis Haroon, former Chairperson National  Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), and the caretaker Minister for Women’s Development, Sindh, 2013, pointed out that the purpose and importance of CII and its constitutional position, the DNA testing and opinions of participants was discussed in detail. She further stated that WAF is a progressive platform and such bodies who go against women’s rights needs no existence.  Some decisions in the past had been supportive (referring to the case of Hudood Ordinance). However, the composition of such bodies, change according to the political environment. She also mentioned that parties like JUI, operates under the CII office and political workers (like Mr Shirani of JUI) were given the position of Senator. They are the same people who had hindered the Sexual Harassment Bill. Ms Haroon reiterated that such bodies and political people need not be consulted as they would always oppose steps of women’s rights.  She informed the participants that NCSW in the past took the Domestic Violence Bill head-on. This Bill was also delayed in the Senate and in the Masalihat Committee which comprises of members of same political parties (JUI/JI). Therefore such controversial decisions and steps are heavily influenced by religious political parties.