Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for stricter punishment for rapists. Image Credit: Agencies

Islamabad: Pakistan’s federal cabinet has approved two anti-rape laws containing harsher punishments for rapists. “The federal cabinet has approved anti-rape ordinances which change the basic definition of rape and suggest severe punishment for gang rape and hanging of rapists,” said Information Minister Shibli Faraz in a press briefing.

PM Khan calls for stricter punishment for rapists

Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked Law Minister Farogh Naseem to prepare comprehensive ordinances incorporating fast-track trial of the accused, comprehensive definition of rape, inclusion of new offences and strict punishments for convicted rapists to curb increasing rape incidents in the country. Shibli Faraz and key ministers have expressed hope that the initiative would help prevent sexual violence in the country.

Exemplary punishment to rapists

The cabinet meeting, chaired by PM Imran Khan, approved in principle two anti-rape ordinances aimed at awarding exemplary punishment to rapists, including chemical castration and hanging, but not in public.

The new laws have been termed by the ministers a “big decision”, saying that it was for the first time in the country’s history that the definition of rape had been changed by incorporating “transgender” and “gang-rape” in it. The bill recommends “chemical castration” for repeat offenders.

Law to become operational in few days

Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari said that the ordinances “should become operational in next few days” following decision from Cabinet Committee on Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC). It includes an “expansive definition of rape, establishment of special court, anti-rape crisis cell and protection of victims and witnesses and prohibition of two-finger test,” she said. The cabinet approved Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance 2020 and Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 to “deal holistically with the crime of rape and child abuse and to make the necessary amendments” in the Pakistan Penal Code, she said.

National sex offenders database

Pakistan government is also planning to introduce a national sex offenders database as part of the proposed legislation to ensure stricter punishments for sexual abusers. Imran Khan earlier said that “the protection of women is the first priority and responsibility of the government,” adding that “such brutality cannot be allowed in any civilised society.”