Pakistan Passes Law to Castrate Rapists

Published November 18th, 2021 - 11:29 GMT
Pakistan
People wearing facemasks walk at the Fatima Jinnah Park in Islamabad, Pakistan, on April 29, 2020. (AFP/File)

Rapists convicted of repeat offences will face chemical castration in Pakistan after the parliament passed a new anti-rape law following a spate of attacks on women and children in the country. 

Lawmakers approved the legislation that will also allow for quicker convictions through the establishment of special courts which will fast track sexual assault cases. 

Chemical castration involves using medication to reduce testosterone and has been used for paedophiles in Indonesia since 2016 and child rapists in Poland since 2006.  

The move comes following a public outcry over an increase in rapes against women and children in Pakistan and the ineffective investigation and prosecution of those sexual violence cases.

The legislation forms a series of measures which aims to tackle sexual in a country where it is rife - including the creation of a national sex offenders register and the protection of victims' identities.   

The bill also states that the government must establish special fast track courts nation wide to hear rape cases and they will have to reach a verdict within four months. 

Anti-rape crisis cells in public hospitals will also be created where victims are able to register their assault and receive a medical examination within hours of the crime.    

Those found guilty of gang rape will be sentenced to death or imprisoned for life, and repeat offenders could be subjected to chemical castration. 

In December last year, President Arif Alvi signed the legislation after Prime Minister Imran Kahn and his cabinet approved it. 

But the vote on Wednesday in the National Assembly permanently passed the measure into law. 

It follows outcry and protests across the country following the gang-rape of a woman outside the city of Lahore in September last year which forced the government to promise action.

Two attackers pulled a French woman out of her car which had broken down at night on a deserted highway near the city, in eastern Punjab province, and gang-raped her as her terrified children watched. Both men were later arrested.

The woman's car had ran out of petrol while she was out with her two children. She called for assistance but was dragged from the vehicle and raped by the two men, Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali.

Protests erupted after the lead investigator Umar Sheikh suggested the woman was to blame for the attack, saying she should have travelled on a busier road during the day and checked her petrol before setting out.

In March, two men were sentenced to death by a Pakistani court for the gang rape.

Prosecutor Hafiz Asghar said the verdict in the case against Malhi and his accomplice Ali was issued inside the prison where they are being held in Lahore. 

 

Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta also sentenced the men to 14 years imprisonment, time that must be served before any executions can take place.  Appeals or commutations are likely.

Sexual harassment and violence against women is common in Pakistan, where nearly 1,000 women are killed each year in so-called 'honor killings' for allegedly violating conservative norms on love and marriage. 

However, ineffective investigation and prosecution of rape cases are commonplace in the country where sexual and gender-based violence towards women is pervasive. Critics believe fewer than four per cent of sexual assault or rape cases in Pakistan result in a conviction.

Many women fear they will be shamed or persecuted by police and others if they come forward. 

Amnesty International last year criticised the Pakistani government's plans to introduce chemical castration as a punishment for repeat offenders. 

Rimmel Mohydin, South Asia Campaigner of Amnesty International, said: 'Forced chemical castrations would violate Pakistan's international and constitutional obligations to prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. 

'Punishments like this will do nothing to fix a flawed criminal justice system. Instead of trying to deflect attention, the authorities should focus on the crucial work of reforms that will address the root causes of sexual violence and give survivors the justice they deserve and the protection they need.' 

Pakistan has witnessed an increase in incidents of rape since 2018, when a serial killer raped and murdered six-year-old Zainab Ansari in the eastern city of Kasur in Punjab province.

The case drew nationwide protests and Imran Ali, 24, was later sentenced to death and hanged in the case. 

In August this year, horrific footage emerged of a young woman being mugged and sexually assaulted by a crowd of hundreds of men in a park in Lahore on Pakistan's independence day. 

Harrowing video taken by onlookers shows a horde of men pulling and pushing the woman, who was filming videos for social media platform TikTok at the Minar-e-Pakistan monument in the Greater Iqbal Park with six companions.

The men separated her from her friends and robbed her of her jewelry, money and mobile phone before they tossed her in the air, pulled off her clothes and groped her. 

The Inspector General confirmed that a total of 66 suspects have been identified and taken in by police for questioning so far, while two police officers were suspended due to alleged negligence in connection with the case.

According to a report from the Lorry Adda police station in Lahore, the victim told police officers: 'People were pushing and pulling me to the extent that they tore my clothes. 

'Several people tried to help me but the crowd was too huge and they kept throwing me in the air.' 

In 2020, Pakistan was near the bottom of the World Economic Forum´s global gender index, coming in at 153 of 156 countries, ahead of only Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan. 

The findings came after data collected from domestic violence hotlines across Pakistan showed a 200% increase in domestic violence between January and March last year, according to a Human Rights Watch report. 

 


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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