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Musharraf signs modified rape law
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December 01, 2006 19:00 IST

Amid protests from Opposition Islamist parties, President Pervez Musharraf [Images] on Friday signed the Bill amending a controversial rape law that requires the victim to produce four male witnesses to the crime.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Sher Afghan Niazi said Musharraf signed the Protection of Women Bill, 2006 making it a law as it was already approved by the National Assembly and Senate last month.

Musharraf had planned to sign the Bill that amends the Hudood Ordinance on December 5 at a women's convention planned to be held in Islamabad by ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q.

But he apparently changed his mind and signed it on Friday scorching rumours that his confidants negotiated a compromise with the Islamist alliance Muthahid a Majlis Amal, which has terming it un-islamic and held protest rallies.

Friday's announcement was made after state-funded Council of Islamic Ideology members called on Musharraf last night and expressed their support for the Bill, which they said did not violate injunctions of the Quran and Sunnah, an official statement said.

Under the new law, approved last week by Parliament, judges can choose whether a rape case should be tried in a criminal court -- where the four-witness rule would not apply - or under the old Islamic laws.

The new amendment also drops the death penalty for sex outside of marriage.

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