ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday accorded approval to the Anti-Rape Ordinance 2020 which will ensure speedy trial of rape cases with women and children as victims and also allow for chemical castration of those convicted of such offences.
However, contrary to the draft approved by the Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases (CCLC), the consent of the convict will not be required for carrying out castration, but it will be the discretion of the judge of the trial court.
Sources said Prime Minister Imran Khan had desired to include castration as a punitive measure to counter the increasing incidents of rape.
The CCLC proposed castration for the first or repeated offenders and the concept of chemical castration was also introduced mainly as a form of rehabilitation and subject to consent.
The consent for the purpose of chemical castration was introduced in the draft bill since the international law makes it mandatory to take consent of the convict before the said procedure. If an accused does not agree to chemical castration, according to the law ministry, he would be dealt in accordance with the Pakistan Penal Code in which the court may award him death sentence, life imprisonment or 25 years’ sentence.
The sources said the CCLC had presented the draft bill before the federal cabinet, where it was decided that the castration would not be with the consent of the convict. Subsequently, the clause proposing castration with the consent of the convict was omitted from the bill.
According to the sources, the law ministry will frame rules for carrying out the castration procedure. They said the judge would be empowered to order chemical castration of the convict for a period ranging from six months to lifetime.
According to a statement issued by the President House on Tuesday, special courts would be established throughout the country for speedy trial of sexual assault suspects. The courts would have to wrap up the cases within four months, it added.
Under the ordinance, the prime minister’s anti-rape crisis cells would be set up for conducting medico-legal examination within six hours of the incident.
A countrywide registry of sexual offenders will also be established with the help of the National Database and Registration Authority.
Under the ordinance, disclosing identities of the victims would be prohibited and declared a punishable offence, the statement said. Police and government officials showing negligence in investigating the cases would be jailed for three years along with imposition of fines. They will also be punished for providing false information.
Repeated offenders would be chemically castrated under the guidance of a notified board, the statement added. It said a fund would be set up by the prime minister, the money from which would be used for establishing special courts, while the federal and provincial governments would also allocate grants for the fund.
Ordinance termed eyewash
Rights activists and constitutional experts termed the ordinance allowing for castration of the rapists useless and eyewash and ruled out the possibility of countering the menace through such a punishment.
Sadia Bokhari of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said such legislation was mere eyewash as it did not help in protecting the victims. She said public hanging and castration could not guarantee end of rape cases, adding that it was effective implementation of the law that would create real deterrence for the rapists.
Ms Bokhari pointed out that even in the most high-profile cases, the suspected rapists got off scot-free because of various loopholes, including out-of-court settlement with the victim’s family.
Renowned lawyer Hamid Khan termed the castration cruel, unusual, unconstitutional and un-Islamic and said it was an irreparable loss for the convict.
In Pakistan’s criminal justice system, a convict was proven innocent even after 17 years of incarceration, he said, adding that had the convict been subjected to castration, his physical condition could not have been reversed.
Hamid Khan said there was a law in place to counter rape cases and protect the victims, adding that instead of promulgating the ordinance, the government should ensure strictly implementation of the existing law.
Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2020