Marital Rape – Is it a crime in Pakistani law?

Pakistan has finally started to speak on the subject of harassment and rape, throwing away the taboo and label, but the topic of marital rape still remains an under-talked aspect. Due to the hesitance factor, the cases hardly get reported and no one knows what goes down – except accounts from few doctors who are witnesses of these silent injuries.

The topic came under discussion in the latter half of last year when a tweet of a doctor went viral, who shared how her patient passed away due to serious injuries she sustained on her wedding night.

She further added that she is sure the parents would have forgiven the culprit because he was related to them. The case exposed the seriousness of the issue. However, when Pakistan’s cultural norms and social dynamics are ignoring the magnitude, let alone the existance of the issue, the law of the land does provide a legal pathway for the victims.

It provides flexibility to the victims to seek legal proceedings against the culprit. 

  1. Rape:- A man is said to commit rape who has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the five following descriptions,

(i)   against her will.

(ii)  without her consent

(iii) with her consent, when the consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death or of hurt,

(iv) with her consent, when the man knows that he is not married to her and that the consent is given because she believes that the man is another person to whom she is or believes herself to be married; or

(v)  With or without her consent when she is under sixteen years of age.

It must be noticed that it includes every woman, regardless of relationship affiliation. Till 2006, rape laws in Pakistan carried an exemption or marriage where a husband could not be prosecuted for raping his wife. To clarify this confusion and eradicate this particular hindrance, Zaman and Lari [2012] argued that the law previously stated: “A man is said to commit rape who has sexual intercourse with a woman, who is not his wife”. However, later the removal of ”who is not his wife” later on was a careful effort to include marital rape and bring it under the law.

But due to the weak interpretation of law and misconceptions associated with it, majority women are unaware of the protective cover law provides for them.

What are your thoughts on this? Share with us in the comments bar below.

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