Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The DNA of beards

Pakistan's role in the 'war on terror' has spawned at least one positive byproduct: the introduction of DNA testing in the country. The catalyst was the need to identify the remains of suspected terrorists, but the technology can also be used in other criminal contexts, such as rape, or even to settle civil disputes over paternity and child support.

As if on cue, the beards are queuing up to denounce this diabolical intrusion of science. Referring to the onerous requirement of four male witnesses, a beard had the following to say: "The condition to provide four eyewitnesses cannot be done away with. Technology or no technology, we have to stick to the divine dictates."

And on the issues of determining paternity: "Our religion prohibits us from publicizing others' sins. Publicly declaring someone illegitimate or of having fathered a child outside marriage is no service at all."

So there you have it - crimes against women and the neglect of one's biological children ought to be swept under the carpet to protect dogma and society's double-standards.


zawar said...

Addressing your criticism in the reverse order, dogma and double-standards aren't tenants of Islam. They are tenants of christianity for a long long time. 'Enlightened' journalism has very often rolled up Islam and Christianity in the same bin of backwardness and distance from reality. But whereas Christianity has been historically perpetuated as a sanctified bureaucracy guided by material and corrupt ambitions, Islamic law and tenants have been free from worldly interference throughout their history.
Frequent cases of rapine, if that is your concern, arise only in societies that are away from Islamic values. Islam does not promote rape or adultry. Which is why there are strict punishments in each case. Instead it provides a mechanism of witnesses that is the best general solution to addressing this sort of crime.

May I remind you that another artifact of technology is artificial insemination. Through some arrangement of events, an individual may be indicted for a rape crime that he didn't commit, because DNA evidence says so. How does your isolated understanding of science propose to address that situation?

Cy said...

Zawar: Four witnesses is the 'best general solution' when DNA testing can provide incontrovertible evidence?

You're defending Islam in the abstract which is fair enough. I prefer to emphasise the conduct of Muslims; I'm sure you'd agree that my choice is more amenable to constructive debate.

As for artificial insemination being the reason for rejecting the use of DNA testing - that's about as risible as an argument can get. DNA testing would provide *evidence* NOT secure an automatic conviction. Evidence can be rebutted. Most importantly you seem to have misplaced faith in the good intentions of Pakistanis.