Sunday, April 30, 2006

HYDERABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) — A Pakistani couple jailed after the woman’s father objected to their marriage have appeared in court after spending five years in prison without trial.

“I have committed no adultery,” 23-year-old Sodi said as she wept in a courthouse in the southern city of Hyderabad and recounted her ordeal to reporters.

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

The two 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,” defense attorney Khuda Baksh Leghari said, adding that a decision was expected within a few days.

Every year, particularly in rural Pakistan, hundreds of women are victims of so-called honor killings for marrying without their families’ consent. Others often end up in jail after relatives file adultery cases against them.

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