Pakistan Amends Adultery Law For Women

In this picture released by the Press Information Department, Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf addresses the nation on Pakistan Television, Thursday, July 21, 2005 in Islamabad, Pakistan. Musharraf vowed to fight religious extremism, and said militants like those who carried out the London bombings were defaming Islam. Portrait of Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah seen on left. AP

Pakistan's president amended a controversial Islamic law Friday so that women facing charges for adultery and other minor crimes can be released on bail.

The much-awaited amendment by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to the Hadood Ordinance will initially affect 1,300 female prisoners, Pakistan's minister for women's affairs, Sumaira Malik, told journalists.

"President Musharraf has taken a bold decision to protect the rights of women and save them from the misuse of Islamic laws," she said.

Under the Hadood Ordinance — passed under the military dictatorship of late Gen. Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq in 1979 — women can be sentenced to death if found guilty of having sex outside of marriage. The ordinance did not allow for women to be released on bail.

Currently more than 6,000 women are in jails awaiting trial.
  • Clarissa Striker

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