Cases and Controversies: Pregnancy as Proof of Guilt Under Pakistan's Hudood Laws

28 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2010 Last revised: 4 Jan 2017

Date Written: 2006


Pakistan's Hudood (Islamic criminal) laws have been a source of controversy since their promulgation by the military regime of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1979. For their supporters, these laws are a welcome step towards the enforcement of shari'ah (Islamic law) and, as such, represent a logical and inevitable progression of those historic processes that had led to the creation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. To their opponents, these laws represent gross violations of fundamental human rights and constitutional norms designed to uphold democratic participation in lawmaking and the equality of citizens irrespective of their religion or gender.

This paper will survey the contours of the controversies surrounding the Hudood laws, and seek to broaden the horizons of the debate surrounding these laws by incorporating an “Islamic critique” of these laws that has generally been lacking in the discourse. More importantly, the paper seeks to analyze the role that the Federal Shariat Court has played in substantively shaping the law, through a chronological analysis of the Court's decisions on the most contentious aspects of the Hudood laws: the conviction of rape victims for zina (consensual adultery/fornication) regarding as proof the pregnancy caused by the rape. This analysis will indicate the strengths of the Islamic critique and propose reforms that may offer a viable avenue for alleviating the hardships perpetrated in the application of the Hudood laws.

Keywords: Pakistan, Hudood, Islamization, Islamic law, zina

Suggested Citation

Cheema, Moeen H., Cases and Controversies: Pregnancy as Proof of Guilt Under Pakistan's Hudood Laws (2006). Brooklyn Journal of International Law, Vol. 32, 2006, Available at SSRN: or

Moeen H. Cheema (Contact Author)

ANU College of Law ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200

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