At the end of 2020, a terrible crime was committed in Pakistan. A woman was gang-raped in front of her children after her car broke down on a motorway in Lahore. The woman had called the police when she ran out of fuel, but the incident occurred before she received any assistance. This occurred just days after a kidnapping, rape and murder of a five-year-old girl in Karachi.
These crimes prompted outrage and protests in Pakistan, but this was fuelled further by the police appearing to victim blame by criticising the woman for travelling alone, late at night, without enough fuel and not on a safer highway.
Legislation was proposed by the Prime Minister, Imran Khan and his cabinet, and in December 2020 the President signed it into law. Within the next couple of months, the Government will get the measure approved by Parliament and have it permanently passed into law.
The legislation provides far tougher anti-rape rules than previously seen in Pakistan. It includes the establishment of special courts that must conclude trials of alleged rapists and issue verdicts within four months. It also prohibits the disclosure of the identity of rape victims and will create a national sex offenders’ register. Rape crisis cells will also be established to ensure victims undergo a specialist medical examination within six hours of reporting the incident. Officers who are found to be negligent in investigating rape cases could face a three-year prison sentence.
One key criticism of the legislation, however, is that it allows for the chemical castration of serial rapists. Amnesty International have stated that “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.”
The legislation importantly reflects the protests and outcries of the citizens in Pakistan and is an important step forward to improving the amount of sexual violence that occurs in Pakistan.
More information can be found in the articles below: