On 10 June 1996, a debate began in the academic and
religious circles regarding the decision of the then ‘Federal Cabinet’ to
abolish capital punishment for women.
Not only does the concept of abolishing capital punishment
for women clash with the constitution of Pakistan, it is also in the most
conspicuous manner, against the principles of the constitution granted by God
Almighty, that is the Qur’ān. Furthermore, it is tantamount to an insult to the
integrity of the Pakistani woman.
There is no doubt that according to Qur’ān and the Sunnah
of Holy Prophet Muhammad (sws), men and women are supposed to work in their
separate capacities on the social level. But the Qur’ān clearly indicates that
as far as intellect, knowledge, wisdom and consciousness are concerned, there is
no difference between a man and a woman. Both are equally blessed with the power
to perceive right and wrong, and have freedom of choice. This means both men and
women are equally accountable for their deeds respectively in the Hereafter (see
4:32 and 4:123&124). Explaining the punishments for the crimes as theft,
fornication and murder, the Qur’ān has prescribed the same punishment for both
men and women (2:178).
It is reported that a women from the elite was caught
stealing. When the case was brought to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sws) he
ordered for the amputation of her hand. When Usāmah (raa) interceded on the
request of the woman’s relatives, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sws) became angry
and rejected the mediation saying that it was against the law.
Equality in the accountability of deeds in this world and
the Hereafter is based on the principle that men and women are equally blessed
with intellect and consciousness. The difference in this regard could be
accepted if it were proved that a man and a woman do not stand on the same
footings as far as intellect and perception is concerned. The Holy Qur’ān,
sayings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (sws) and the conscience of the world are
witness to the fact that a criminal can only escape punishment if his/her mental
and moral condition makes room for alleviation. It is the same principle which
emanates from the Qur’ānic directive of giving only half the punishment to
slave-girls viz-a-viz free men and women. Similarly, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sws)
declared that three types of people could not be held responsible for their
deeds -- A lunatic, a minor and a person not in his senses. This is exactly the
principle followed by the law makers throughout the world. But some people in
Pakistan are bent upon proving that Pakistani woman is included in the category
of lunatics and senseless people.
One of our respected Federal Ministers said that women are
not usually involved in heinous crimes as terrorism and robbery. We should like
to ask the honourable minister that if women are not involved in heinous crimes
then what reason is there for abolishing capital punishment and introducing life
imprisonment for women. Why at all should there be any punishment if women are
not involved in these crimes?
Many human rights’ organisations have also believed that
the alleviation would bring more respect to the Pakistani woman throughout the
world. It is difficult to understand how the inclusion of our women in the
category of lunatics and senseless people can bring respect to them. In all
probability, because of this law, women involved in crimes in Pakistan will get
a licence for criminal activities.
The bottom line is that if people today talk about gender
equality and women are not considered to be second rate human beings as far as
intellect and freedom of choice are concerned, then a woman should be equally
and fully responsible for all of her deeds.
Today human-beings have power. They can deviate from the
laws of their Lord. They can humiliate the eternal principles of God Almighty.
They may prefer to follow their worldly masters and pretend that everything is
fine. But a day will come when they will lose all the power and support. On that
day they will have to face the Lord of the universe. There will be no going back
(Adapted from Moiz Amjad’s urdu article)