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December 22, 2009

A nose-for-a-nose and an ear-for-an-ear punishment in Pakistan

Though not exactly involving the biblical punishment of an eye-for-an-eye, this CNN story reports on a sentence imposed in Pakistan that gets pretty close:

A court in Lahore, Pakistan, has ordered that two men have their noses and ears chopped off, after the two were convicted of doing the same to a young woman.

The anti-terrorism court also ordered that brothers Ammanat Ali, 29, and Sher Mohammed, 27, spend life in prison and pay 700,000 rupees ($8,300) in compensation to the victim, Punjab province chief prosecutor Chaudary Mohammed Jahangir said Tuesday. The sentence was handed down Monday in accordance with Islamic law and the country's anti-terror laws, the prosecutor said....

The two men attacked the woman, Fazeelat Bibi, 22, on September 28, in the village of Zafarkey, southwest of Lahore, Inspector Hakim Ali said. Along with their cousin Mohammed Ali and two other men, they hid, stopped Bibi on her way home from work, and strangled her with a wire, the officer said.

When they thought she was dead, they cut off her nose and ears, Ali said.  They mutilated her "to set an example," prosecutor Jahangir said....

The high court must confirm the sentence before it is carried out, and a doctor must determine that they can survive the punishment.  The high court has suspended similar sentences in the past.

December 22, 2009 at 01:37 PM | Permalink

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Comments

The penalty for this crime, which is designed to intimidate women, should be death, not mutilation.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 22, 2009 2:11:36 PM

federalist --

The crime was gruesome and malevolent, but the DP would be excessive, in my opinion.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 22, 2009 9:26:04 PM

This penalty is at the ultimate expression of the ridiculous retributionist aim of the criminal law promulgated by certain professors.

All aims of the criminal law are immature and worthless to the owner of the law, the public, save one. Incapacitation. If the aim of government is to take care of our security, then the person is the target, not the crime. To stay within the liberal, humanitarian, kind tradition, do 123D.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 22, 2009 9:52:42 PM

bill, the issue is the systematic subjugation of women . . . . thus you cannot look at this in isolation--these extremist scum need to be martyred

Posted by: federalist | Dec 23, 2009 9:22:09 AM

federalist --

I don't disagree with your premise. The source of my disagreement is with the idea that sentencing should be symbolic, i.e., in this case, that it should symbolize society's intolerance of cultural subjegation of women. And even if sentencing should be symbolic, going for the DP here would be taking it too far.

I want sentencing to be one case at a time, one set of facts at a time. When I was a prosecutor, I never argued that the court should "make an example" out of Defendant X. Defendant X is an individual human being, not an example. Justice lay in sentencing him for what he did, not what he was about.

It is for exactly this reason that I think abolitionism is wrong. Abolitionists refuse to examine the behavior of the individual defendant, preferring an agenda of what they foolishly view as "compassion" over looking at the frequently disgusting and horrifying facts of the individual crime.

The facts of the crime in this case merit a substantial sentence for sure, but the victim's life was, so far as I can see, not in jeopardy. And it was not a horribly degrading crime like the violent child rape in Kennedy v. Louisiana. The death penalty was appropriate in that case, as Justice Alito argued, because of the facts of the crime, not because it was an expression of the defendant's (or anyone else's) attitude toward girls or women.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 23, 2009 12:47:23 PM

bill: "And it was not a horribly degrading crime like the violent child rape in Kennedy v. Louisiana."

me: attemping to murder and intentionally disfiguring a woman for the "crime" of working as a warning to other women in the community doesn't qualify as a "horribly degrading crime"? Especially in a country like Pakistan where the more secular Moslem government is fighting Moslem extremists who want to institute a Taliban like government.

Personally, I think that Pakistan is chopping off the wrong body parts for that particular crime - castration would be so much more effective.

Posted by: virginia | Dec 23, 2009 1:17:56 PM

Ginny --

"[A]ttemping to murder and intentionally disfiguring a woman for the "crime" of working as a warning to other women in the community doesn't qualify as a "horribly degrading crime"?"

It isn't horribly degrading in the way rape is, especially the violent rape of an eight year old. Sexual degradation is on a level by itself, particularly for a child.

By the way, where are you getting the info that the defendants were convicted of, or even charged with, attempted murder? I didn't see that in the story or in the CNN video.

What I did hear on the video was that they also got a life sentence. Would you have preferred the DP? How 'bout the DP for a person who murdered scores of women, i.e., Timmy McVeigh? Were you similarly frosted at him?

"Personally, I think that Pakistan is chopping off the wrong body parts for that particular crime - castration would be so much more effective."

Better watch out or some of your fellow liberals will accuse you of barbarism! I get accused of it all the time just for thinking crooks, druggies and strongarms should go to the slammer instead of some adult version of Head Start.

If you want to join federalist, Kent, Soronel, me and a few others here as DP proponents, let me give you a big welcome to the Bloodlusters Club.

May I sign you up?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 23, 2009 3:44:17 PM

I see the death penalty as wearing out one's welcome here on earth, either by repeated violent crime or by a single heinous, disgusting crime. It is time for these gentlemen to go. The religious leaders, financiers, and intellectuals that enabled and encouraged this act have to go too. To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 23, 2009 5:56:44 PM

Bill: Virginia seems a proper Southern young lady. Please, do no ask her to put her hands into the pig sty. They should stay above the muck and mire, and be admired for their grace and poise.

I just pray, she is not a fat, middle aged, male police officer looking for child porn adherents. This blog seems pre-occupied with the subject. It is not a common crime, and the 23 million other Index felonies get ignored a lot here.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 23, 2009 6:18:20 PM

Bill, first of all, I have zero issues with the death penalty for such a crime even here in the states. But, and I wasn't as clear as I should be, I think your idea about punishing people for what they do appears quaint in the situation. Such extreme violence towards women is a means of subjugating all women--thus, the crime is more than simply what they did to this woman. And society has an obligation to deal with these type of crimes in the harshest possible way. The fight for freedom of women in Pakistan does not have the luxury, in my opinion, of your view. Moreover, their actions were an instrument of tyranny, and death is a rightful punishment in response thereto.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 24, 2009 11:01:02 AM

Bill, isn't all sentencing symbolic to an extent? Crimes are offenses against society, and any criminal sentence is a symbol of society's intolerance of [fill in the blank]. For that matter, general deterrence is all about symbolism, and I don't think you'd dispute that general deterrence is a legitimate aim of sentencing.

In any event, all symbolism aside, this crime was an act of political and social terrorism. It was a crime pour discourager les autres, targeted not only at the victim but at all Pakistani women. Its intent was to intimidate 50 percent of the Pakistani population into giving up some of their human rights. I think the death penalty is appropriate for such an offense for precisely the same reason it was appropriate in McVeigh's case.

(Yes, I'm a liberal DP supporter. There are more of us out there than you might think.)

And finally, I have to strongly disagree that sex offenses are more degrading than mutilation. Don't get me wrong - I've represented rape victims and rapists, and my experience with both has underscored the enormity of rape. Nevertheless, once a sex offense is done with, it leaves no physical marks, and the victim has a substantial amount of choice about how to deal with it, and whether to keep it secret or publicize it.

Physical mutilation, on the other hand, is lifelong. Fazeelat Bibi will never get her nose and ears back, and this mutilation will affect the way people interact with her for the rest of her life. It will affect her ability to get a job, do business or even walk down the street without being noticed. If she is not yet married, she will probably never marry. And she doesn't have the choice of moving to another city or village and starting over, because her face will accompany her everywhere.

I can't claim to know what's in your mind, but in my experience, many people who believe that sex crimes are worse than death or mutilation are motivated by a Victorian sense of lost purity rather than the actual, tangible effects of the crime. I don't know about you, but I'd rather lose my purity than a substantial part of my face.

Posted by: desuetude | Dec 24, 2009 11:41:13 AM

"It was a crime pour discourager les autres, targeted not only at the victim but at all Pakistani women."
.
Well put.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 24, 2009 12:36:29 PM

Actually, I didn't put it as well as I should have: the correct French phrasing is "pour d├ęcourager les autres."

Posted by: desuetude | Dec 24, 2009 5:09:27 PM

federalist --

"I think your idea about punishing people for what they do appears quaint in the situation."

Being quaint, my able and principled correlator, is a by-product of having been born in 1600.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 27, 2009 8:22:04 PM

desuetude --

"Bill, isn't all sentencing symbolic to an extent? Crimes are offenses against society, and any criminal sentence is a symbol of society's intolerance of [fill in the blank]."

Correct. That is why sentencing ranges are matters for the legislature in the first instance. But sentencing of an individual defendant should look to his individual behavior.

"In any event, all symbolism aside, this crime was an act of political and social terrorism."

Also correct, so far as I am able to see. But not all acts of terrorism deserve the DP, in my opinion.

"Yes, I'm a liberal DP supporter. There are more of us out there than you might think."

Actually, Gallup has found that most persons identifying themselves as liberal support the DP. I believe he has a paper out called, "Who Supports the Death Penalty." The finding was that a majority of practically every demographic group support it.

"Physical mutilation, on the other hand, is lifelong. Fazeelat Bibi will never get her nose and ears back, and this mutilation will affect the way people interact with her for the rest of her life. It will affect her ability to get a job, do business or even walk down the street without being noticed. If she is not yet married, she will probably never marry. And she doesn't have the choice of moving to another city or village and starting over, because her face will accompany her everywhere."

Your description of the crime is poignant and apt. Mutilation is a gruesome thing. These guys got life imprisonment in adddition to their own mutilation (which I oppose because it's barbaric). But life is as far as I would go.

"I can't claim to know what's in your mind, but in my experience, many people who believe that sex crimes are worse than death or mutilation are motivated by a Victorian sense of lost purity rather than the actual, tangible effects of the crime. I don't know about you, but I'd rather lose my purity than a substantial part of my face."

1. Victorianism is underrated, particularly compared to modern license and vulgarity.

2. Notwithstanding the above, I spent a good deal of my adolescene unsuccessfully attempting to lose my purity, so I am not entirely afflicted with Victorian sensibilities.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 27, 2009 8:45:24 PM

bill: "I spent a good deal of my adolescene unsuccessfully attempting to lose my purity"

me: good thing you failed, otherwise you could have been branded a sex offender for life :)

Posted by: virginia | Dec 28, 2009 2:09:15 PM

Ginny --

Now that you mention it, I've also been trying, also unsuccessfully, to be a "sex offender" for life, but I think I need to lose another 25 pounds before women start to buy my lines. This is what happens when you get old. My advice to you is to stay young.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 28, 2009 3:29:37 PM

I am an attorney-family law and although criminal prosecution has never been my cup of tea I was so pleased with this court's treatment of this crime and how measured the response was. It seems likely that while the judge wanted to met out justice he was just as concerned about the victim and the defendants lives after this trial. The sentence he imposed is going to make the men experience the horror that they inflicted on the victim-both long and short term while leaving them a life that they can choose to be better in. It seems as though this system is not as unbalanced as ours in the United States where total destruction of the convicted's future is the ultimate goal. There is every chance that these men could be reintergrated into society better people than they were before the events that led up to the attack on that young women.

Posted by: Safiyah | Dec 29, 2009 6:21:48 PM

The justice system in Pakistan is different, we should be aware of that.

Luke Hamilton

Posted by: pediatric ENT | Jan 24, 2010 10:52:17 AM

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