Tribal societies that use women as scapegoats for crimes committed by men typically use their own religious beliefs as scapegoats for their brute savagery. In the case of Pakistan, the laws that shield these cowards lurking under the guise of radical Islam are simply means of perpetuating the governmental status quo. This frenzied coupling of irrationality and opportunism has produced many legislative deformities: the Pakistani law that mandates the incarceration of women for what amounts to the “crime” of having been raped is an especially lame example. As such, no amount of juggling on President Musharraf’s part can placate the radical and reform elements of Pakistan. The only choice is radical surgery: if he wants to avoid international ridicule and economic sanctions, his government must repeal the “Hudood” laws and work to keep his country’s legal system free of the influence of radical Islam. For now, he can start with freeing the rape victims languishing in prison as well as allowing them to find new homes in the many civilized countries that will be happy to protect them and help them to rebuild their lives.
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