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Man jailed for marital rape in landmark verdict in Pakistan

Man jailed for marital rape in landmark verdict in Pakistan

A man in Pakistan was sentenced to three years in prison for forcing his wife to have sex without her consent, in a landmark conviction over marital rape.

The man, identified as Javed, was found guilty of sodomising his wife under Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the Pakistan Penal Code. He was sentenced to three years of rigorous imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of Rs30,000 (£84.5).

Failure to pay the fine would result in one additional month of imprisonment, the sessions court said.

Pakistan, like many South Asian countries where the conversation around marital rape is limited, does not have a law to explicitly criminalise forced sex in a marriage.

Bahzad Akbar, the lawyer representing the survivor, argued that sodomy fell within the definition of rape and marital rape following an amendment brought under Section 375 penal code in 2021, The News reported.

“I am not sure about other provinces but this is certainly the first such conviction over marital rape in Sindh following the amendment,” he told the newspaper.

Since their marriage in July 2022, the man has been forcing his wife to perform oral and anal sex despite attempts to stop him, the woman testified.

The woman informed her mother-in-law two months into the marriage, but Javed's mother refused to say anything to his son, the court heard.

The survivor eventually filed a police complaint at the Chakiwara police station in Karachi against her husband in November 2022.

“From perusal of evidence brought at the trial by the prosecution, it appears that the victim has fully established commission of sodomy with her by the accused being her husband,” observed additional sessions judge Ashraf Hussain Khowaja.

Though the survivor "contradicted some facts relating to the period of her stay with the accused, putting her signature on memo of site inspection at PS, suffering from disease of piles, and her age, which are immaterial facts which would not be fatal to the prosecution case,” the judge added.

There were no known prior convictions of marital rape in Pakistan, Mr Akbar said.