ISLAMABAD: A joint session of the Parliament unanimously approved anti-honour killing and anti-rape bills moved by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar on Thursday.
The legislation on honour killings will introduce strict punishment for the convicts making it tougher than the ordinary murder cases.
Under the new law relatives of the victim would only be able to pardon the killer if he is sentenced to capital punishment. However, the culprit would still face a mandatory life sentence of twelve-and-a-half years.
Before moving the Anti-Rape Bill, Babar informed the joint session: "The bill will prove to be effective in curbing rape cases across the country."
Debating during the session, Law Minister Zaid Hamid revealed that the perpetrator of the crime will also be medically examined after this bill is turned into law.
"The verdicts in the rape cases will have to be given within three months, with the right to appeal in six months," he added.
"The police station will be obliged to inform the victims of their legal rights," Hamid said, adding, "We have made it mandatory that the culprit must be imprisoned for 25 years."
The DNA samples collected shall be at the earliest sent for investigation to a forensic laboratory whereat these shall be properly examined and preserved.
— Text of the bill
He further said that rape of minors, as well as the mentally and physically ill, has also become punishable.
Former PPP senator Sughra Imam, who had initially tabled both bills, said: “No law will eradicate a crime entirely but the law should be a deterrent. Laws are supposed to guide better behaviour, not allow destructive behaviour to continue with impunity.”
Dasti downplays importance of bills
Speaking during the joint session, Jamshed Dasti lamented the introduction of bills saying that the session had been called to discuss the matter of Kashmir but it has been overshadowed.
“Indian forces are standing on the border, hundreds of our soldiers are injured and many have embraced martyrdom. There was no point of bringing up this bill today. We had to send a message to our enemy, but this bill has overshadowed it,” he said.
This Parliament has been subdued by the American NGOs and their Jewish agenda, which is against Pakistan.
He also lamented that “today even 5th graders are aware of sex education”.
If anyone talks about Islam and Quran, people possessing no knowledge of the religion pass decree on it to pander to the international terrorist America.
Nawaz vows to ensure implementation of the legislation
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to ensure the “implementation of the legislation across the country” as he congratulated the Parliament and entire nation on the passage of a bill providing for strict punishment on honour killing.
“I congratulate the Parliament, the NGOs, civil society, academia, media and all those who worked hard and supported us in the passage of this legislation,” Nawaz said in a statement.
He said that honour killing was one of the most critical problems that Pakistan had been facing and the government was determined to adopt all possible ways to remove this stain from the society.
“We have succeeded in our efforts today; there is no honour in honour killing,” the prime minister remarked.
“We will make it sure to fully enforce this legislation across the country as we did during its passage from the Parliament. Women are the most essential part of our society and I believe in their empowerment, protection and emancipation so that they can equally contribute towards development and prosperity of our country,” he reiterated.
Also read: Loopholes persist in 'honour killing' bill
In July, days after the 'honour' killing of social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch, a committee comprising lawmakers from both the lower and upper houses of parliament unanimously approved two bills aimed at tackling 'honour' killings and boosting rape convictions.
The perpetrators of honour killings – in which the victim, normally a woman, is killed by a relative – often walk free because they can seek forgiveness for the crime from another family member.
Rape conviction rates meanwhile are close to zero per cent, largely due to the law's reliance on circumstantial evidence and a lack of forensic testing.
The law minister had earlier said, "We have plugged all loopholes in the anti-honour killing legislation."
In the anti-rape bill, “a provision to conduct DNA tests on both the alleged victim and perpetrator has been added for the first time”, he said. The rape of minors, as well as the mentally and physically ill, would become punishable by death.
A 2005 amendment to the law pertaining to 'honour' killings prevented men who kill female relatives pardoning themselves as an "heir" of the victim.
But punishment was left to a judge's discretion when other relatives of the victim forgive the killer – a loophole which critics say is exploited.
Rights groups and politicians have for years called for tougher laws to tackle perpetrators of violence against women in Pakistan and the move follows a slew of high-profile killings in the country.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's ruling PML-N party has a large majority of seats in the lower house and the bills are believed to have enough backing from opposition parties to pass in the senate too.