Friday, April 28, 2006

A Pakistani couple, jailed after the woman's father objected to their marriage, appeared in court after spending five years in prison without trial


"I have committed no adultery," 23-year-old Sodi (Eds; one name) wept in a courthouse in the southern city of Hyderabad as she recounted her ordeal to journalists.

"I was 18 when I got married of my own free will with Kashkeli. Our marriage was contracted before a maulvi (preacher) and registered," said the woman, who has been held in a separate jail from her husband.

The couple were arrested in October 2001 on adultery charges after the woman's father, a farmer, lodged a report with police accusing the man of abducting his daughter and committing adultery with her.

The Supreme Court ordered the civil court to expedite a decision on the case after receiving an appeal smuggled out of jail by the woman.

"The girl has filed an application for justice as she has been kept apart from her husband for five years without a decision on the case," defence lawyer Khuda Baksh Leghari told Reuters, adding that a decision was expected within a few days.

Every year, particularly in conservative rural Pakistan, hundreds of women are victims of so-called honour killings for marrying without their families' consent.

Others often land up in jail after relatives file adultery cases against them.

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