Pakistan to introduce chemical castration law against rapists

Islamabad: Pakistani government is set to promulgate an ordinance to introduce punishments of chemical castration for rapists and sex offenders, a statement issued from the Ministry of Law said on Tuesday.

“Since the Parliament is not in session, an ordinance will be promulgated to tighten the laws against rapists and sex offenders,” the ministry’s statement quoted Federal Minister for Law and Justice Dr Farogh Naseem as saying.

The statement added that strict penalties also included a death sentence, life imprisonment. The minister said that the offender could be subject to chemical castration either for some time or for life. He maintained that the similar laws were in place in other countries such as the United States, adding that the chances of chemical castration would be increased for the habitual offenders.

The law minister further said that the data of sex offenders would be maintained by National Database and Registration Authority.  He said that maintenance of data would help in apprehending the perpetrators of sex crimes. The law minister also emphasized that people need to play an important role by pointing out sex offenders around them.

The statement was issued following a meeting of the federal cabinet in which the increasing incidents of rapes in the country were discussed. Some of the federal ministers including Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri suggested the death penalty for sex offenders.

However, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the law for chemical castration would be introduced first. The government also decided that those who sexually offend transgender would also be considered as rape.

During the cabinet meeting, the law ministry presented a draft of the anti-rape ordinance which also included women’s role in policing, fast-tracking rape cases and witness protection. The premier stressed that the rape was a serious matter and no further delay in introducing the law would be tolerated, further adding, “We need to ensure a safe environment for our citizens.”

He further told the cabinet that the legislation would be clear with strict implementation, adding that the rape victims would be able to register complaints without fear as the government would protect the identity of the complainant.

In a post-cabinet press conference, Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz said that after approval of the anti-rape ordinance, the cabinet asked the Law Division and other departments concerned to finalize the draft at earliest by removing legal lacunae.

Faraz told the media that the Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of another recent incident of rape of a mother and her daughter in Sindh’s Kashmore district and asked Law Minister Farogh Naseem to prepare a comprehensive ordinance including a clear definition of rape.

Faraz expressed hope that the new legislation would significantly reduce the number of rape incidents in the country.

The idea of chemical castration was first floated by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The premier during a television interview in September had said that the rapists should be hanged publically or chemically castrated.  Prime Minister Khan’s statement had come in the backdrop of motorway-gang rape incident. 

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In September, a woman along with her two sons (below eight) was stuck on Sialkot-Lahore Motorway in midnight when her car ran out of fuel. The two dacoits not only robbed her but also raped her in nearby fields after which they managed the escape before the arrival of police and victim lady’s relatives. The primary accused namely Abid Malhi was arrested after a month and his trial is pending adjudication.

Prime Minister Khan during the interview had said, “Unfortunately when we had the discussion, we were told public hangings would not be internationally acceptable. We were even told that the GSP-Plus trade status given to Pakistan by the European Union will be affected badly.”

After the recent cabinet meeting, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari took to Twitter and said that the cabinet approved in-principle two ordinances to deal holistically with rape and child abuse and to make necessary amendments in Pakistan Penal Code.

These two ordinances include the Anti-Rape (Investigation & Trial) Ordinance 2020 and the Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Ordinance 2020. Human rights minister further said that the two ordinances would be finalized by the Cabinet Committee on Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC). She added that the legislation also included the establishment of special courts, anti-rape crisis cells and prohibition of the ‘two-finger’ test.

Earlier this month, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan had told Dawn News that the special courts for expeditious trials of rape cases would be established under the ordinance.

He had said that under the proposed law, only a gazetted officer of deputy inspector general or senior superintendent of police level would investigate the rape cases. According to Awan over 21,000 rape cases were registered in the country in the last few years but a few hundred could go for trial.

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