#MeToo: Jami Has No Legal Protection As Pakistani Law Does Not Recognize Male Rape

Jami Mehmood, #MeToo Jami, filmmaker Jami
Source: Hip in Pakistan

Pakistani filmmaker, Jami came forward with his own sexual assault story last week to counter the backlash against the #MeToo movement in Pakistan.

Jami did not name the perpetrator but listed down identifying details which had people on social media pointing fingers at the powerful media tycoon.

Jami is currently on the run, fearing for his safety in the aftermath of the revelation that he made in his #MeToo story.

Read: Jami Lashes Out At Dawn For Changing His #MeToo Narrative & It’s Time The Newspaper Offers An Explanation

#MeToo – Jami to take legal course?

During his discussions with Bolo Jawan as well as through his tweets, Jami has communicated his desire to take the legal course. However, he is held back because of the absence of rape laws pertaining to men in the country as well as the infamous defamation law under which he can be sued.

Let’s take a look at the specific laws – or their lack thereof – that serve as a hurdle for Jami to come forward with the name of the rapist.

Defamation law

Under the Pakistan Penal Code, “Defamation is that which tends to injure reputation; to diminish the esteem, respect, goodwill or confidence in which the plaintiff is held, or to excite adverse, derogatory or unpleasant feelings or opinions against him/her.”

It is subject to imprisonment of up to five years.

While the defamation law demands debates on its own, it is worth pointing out that no one has ever been convicted under this law to date. It has nevertheless been used as a pressure tactic to silence the survivors of sexual harassment and violence. The case in point being – Meesha Shafi vs Ali Zafar.

The following are some of the defenses in an action for defamation:

a) That he is not the author, publisher, or printer of the statement complained of;
b) The matter commented on is fair and in the public interest, constitutes an expression of opinion and not an assertion of fact, and published in good faith;
c) The matter complained of is based on truth and was made for the public good;
d) The matter complained of was privileged communication such as between a lawyer and a client or between persons having fiduciary relations.

So, it is quite evident that criminal defamation laws are used in Pakistan to silence the sexual assault victims and is also contradictory with freedom of speech guaranteed under the constitution.

Rape laws in Pakistan

According to Section 375 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860, “A man is said to have commit rape when he has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the five following descriptions:
(i) against her will,
(ii) without her consent,
(iii) with her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death, or of hurt,
(iv) with her consent, when the man knows that he is not married to her and that her consent is given because she believes that the man is another person to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married; or
(v) with or without her consent when she is under sixteen (16) years of age.”

It clearly states rape as a man having intercourse with a woman without her consent. It fails to take in account that men, too, can be raped.

Pakistan’s rape law points to the cultural image of male superiority and in doing so makes men vulnerable to sexual assault without any consequences for the perpetrator.

Journalist, Susan Brownmiller, in her study, “Against out Will: Men, Women and Rape“, stated that, “All the acts of sex forced on unwilling victims deserve to be treated in concept as equally grave offenses in the eyes of the law, for the avenues of penetration is less significant than the intent to degrade.”

According to Famiya Masood, rape should not be about gender, it should be be a “crime of the powerful against the powerless.”

Sodomy law in Pakistan

Section 377 of Penal Code criminalizes homosexuality. It states “carnal knowledge of any man against the order of nature is punishable with a penalty of 2 years up to life imprisonment and a possible corporal punishment of a 100 lashes.”

But even under this law, male rape victims are not protected considering that it does not talk about consent.

The most problematic aspect of this law is that even if a male survivor of rape comes forward to formally take legal action, he can himself become liable to sodomy and given the same punishment as the perpetrator!

In the absence of male rape laws and in the presence of defamation laws, it is unfair for people to expect Jami to come forward with the name of his assailant.

At this point, the state through its Ministry of Human Rights, should extend support to Jami so that he feels encouraged to name the powerful media tycoon who brutally assaulted him.