Govt to introduce anti-rape ordinance with stricter penalties including chemical castration: minister

Published November 25, 2020
The anti-rape ordinance is expected to be promulgated in the coming days. — Dawn/File
The anti-rape ordinance is expected to be promulgated in the coming days. — Dawn/File

The government is set to promulgate an ordinance to introduce strict punishments for rapists and sex offenders including the death penalty and chemical castration, federal Minister for Law and Justice Dr Farogh Naseem said on Tuesday.

While talking to reporters at the law ministry, Naseem said since the parliament was not in session, an ordinance will be promulgated to "toughen the laws" against rapists.

"The penalties include death penalty, imprisonment for [the] entire life, 10 to 25 years of imprisonment and chemical castration," a statement by the law ministry quoted him as saying.

The minister said an offender could be subjected to chemical castration that would last either "for some time or for life".

Read: Public hangings, castration are no solutions and bringing them up detracts the debate for real reforms

The chances of chemical castration will increase for repeat offenders, Naseem said, adding that "similar laws [are] in place in the United States and other countries."

The idea of severe penalities was first floated by Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had said during a television interview in September that rapists should either be hanged publicly or chemically castrated to curb rising sex crimes.

His statement had come in the wake of the motorway gang-rape incident that caused an outpouring of anger across the country and brought sexual violence against women into national focus.

After an incident involving the alleged rape of a woman and her minor daughter in Sindh's Kashmore district, the premier earlier this month announced that the government would bring a “stringent and holistic anti-rape ordinance closing all loopholes”.

Law minister Naseem said a registry of sex offenders will also be maintained by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) which will help in apprehending the perpetrators of sex crimes.

He added that the people "need to play an important role by pointing out sex offenders and rapists around them", according to the statement.

Information Minister Shibli Faraz told a press conference earlier on Tuesday that the federal cabinet had given in-principle approval to the ordinance, which he said was likely to be finalised by next week.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari on Twitter said the cabinet had approved two ordinances in order to "deal holistically with the crime of rape and child abuse" and to make the necessary amendments in the Pakistan Penal Code. They are the Anti-Rape (Investigation & Trial) Ordinance 2020 and the Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Ordinance 2020.

Mazari said the two ordinances will be finalised by the Cabinet Committee on Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) and "should become operational in next few days".

She said the legislation included among other things: an "expansive" definition of rape, the establishment of special courts and anti-rape crisis cells, protection of victims and witnesses and prohibition of the "two-finger" test.

"These ordinances were badly needed," the minister wrote.

PTI Senator Faisal Javed in a tweet said the law "will become operational after it is passed through the parliament soon".

'Ultimate and stringent punishments'

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan had told Dawn earlier this month that the ordinance will seek the establishment of special courts for speedy trial of rape cases, suggest steps for protection of witnesses and create a separate prosecution network for this purpose.

He said the ordinance had been drafted in line with the prime minister’s directives to his legal team for preparing the law covering all “four sides”, including protection of the victim so that her personal trauma could not become public and protection of witnesses.

Awan said under the proposed law, rape cases would not be investigated by ordinary police officials and only a gazetted officer up to the level of DIG (deputy inspector general) or SSP (senior superintendent of police) would monitor these cases. He said the proposed law also suggested steps for speedy disposal of cases. He said in the last few years, over 21,000 rape cases were registered in the country and “only a few hundred of them could go for trial”.

Giving details, he said the properties of the convicts in such cases would be forfeited for paying compensation to the victims.

Awan at the time said “ultimate and stringent punishments” would be awarded to the culprits but ruled out the option of public hanging as demanded by several political leaders, including some ministers.

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