Rapists convicted of repeat offences face chemical castration in Pakistan after a new law was passed following a spate of attacks on women and children across the country.
The new legislation will also allow for quicker convictions through the establishment of special courts which will fast track sexual assault cases.
Chemical castration involves using medication to reduce testosterone and has been used for paedophiles in Indonesia since 2016 and child rapists in Poland since 2006.
The move follows a public outcry over the increase in rapes against women and children in Pakistan and the ineffective investigation and prosecution of those sexual violence cases.
Rapists convicted of repeat offences will face chemical castration in Pakistan after the parliament (pictured) passed a new anti-rape law following a spate of attacks on women and children in the country
Pakistan has brought in new laws that will see some rapists chemically castrated following public outcry against sexual violence in the country. Pictured: people protest after the gang rape of a woman in Lahore in September 2020
The legislation forms a series of measures including the creation of a national sex offenders register and the protection of victims’ identities.
The bill also states that the government must establish special fast track courts nation wide to hear rape cases and they will have to reach a verdict within four months.
Anti-rape crisis cells in public hospitals will also be created where victims are able to register their assault and receive a medical examination within hours of the crime.
Those found guilty of gang rape will be sentenced to death or imprisoned for life, and repeat offenders could be subjected to chemical castration.
In December last year, President Arif Alvi signed the legislation after Prime Minister Imran Kahn and his cabinet approved it.
But the vote on Wednesday in the National Assembly permanently passed the measure into law.
It follows outcry and protests across the country following the gang-rape of a woman outside the city of Lahore in September last year which forced the government to promise action.
Two attackers pulled a French woman out of her car which had broken down at night on a deserted highway near the city, in eastern Punjab province, and gang-raped her as her terrified children watched. Both men were later arrested.
The woman’s car had ran out of petrol while she was out with her two children. She called for assistance but was dragged from the vehicle and raped by the two men, Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali.
Protests erupted after the lead investigator Umar Sheikh suggested the woman was to blame for the attack, saying she should have travelled on a busier road during the day and checked her petrol before setting out.
In March, two men were sentenced to death by a Pakistani court for the gang rape.
Prosecutor Hafiz Asghar said the verdict in the case against Malhi and his accomplice Ali was issued inside the prison where they are being held in Lahore.
Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta also sentenced the men to 14 years imprisonment, time that must be served before any executions can take place. Appeals or commutations are likely.
In March, two men were sentenced to death by a Pakistani court for the gang rape of a woman in front of her children in Lahore
Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta (pictured arriving at the district jail) also sentenced the men to 14 years imprisonment, time that must be served before any executions can take place
Sexual harassment and violence against women is common in Pakistan, where nearly 1,000 women are killed each year in so-called ‘honor killings’ for allegedly violating conservative norms on love and marriage.
However, ineffective investigation and prosecution of rape cases are commonplace in the country where sexual and gender-based violence towards women is pervasive. Critics believe fewer than four per cent of sexual assault or rape cases in Pakistan result in a conviction.
Many women fear they will be shamed or persecuted by police and others if they come forward.
Amnesty International last year criticised the Pakistani government’s plans to introduce chemical castration as a punishment for repeat offenders.
Rimmel Mohydin, South Asia Campaigner of Amnesty International, said: ‘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. Instead of trying to deflect attention, the authorities should focus on the crucial work of reforms that will address the root causes of sexual violence and give survivors the justice they deserve and the protection they need.’
Pakistan has witnessed an increase in incidents of rape since 2018, when a serial killer raped and murdered six-year-old Zainab Ansari in the eastern city of Kasur in Punjab province.
The case drew nationwide protests and Imran Ali, 24, was later sentenced to death and hanged in the case.
In August this year, horrific footage emerged of a young woman being mugged and sexually assaulted by a crowd of hundreds of men in a park in Lahore on Pakistan’s independence day.
Harrowing video taken by onlookers shows a horde of men pulling and pushing the woman, who was filming videos for social media platform TikTok at the Minar-e-Pakistan monument in the Greater Iqbal Park with six companions.
The men separated her from her friends and robbed her of her jewelry, money and mobile phone before they tossed her in the air, pulled off her clothes and groped her.
The Inspector General confirmed that a total of 66 suspects have been identified and taken in by police for questioning so far, while two police officers were suspended due to alleged negligence in connection with the case.
The grainy footage shows the woman being hauled off of a wall by a man in the centre of the image before she was pulled into the crowd
A total of 66 suspects have been identified and taken in by police for questioning so far
According to a report from the Lorry Adda police station in Lahore, the victim told police officers: ‘People were pushing and pulling me to the extent that they tore my clothes.
‘Several people tried to help me but the crowd was too huge and they kept throwing me in the air.’
In 2020, Pakistan was near the bottom of the World Economic Forum´s global gender index, coming in at 153 of 156 countries, ahead of only Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan.
The findings came after data collected from domestic violence hotlines across Pakistan showed a 200% increase in domestic violence between January and March last year, according to a Human Rights Watch report.
How the rape and murder of a six-year-old girl in 2018 sparked outrage across Pakistan
Zainab Ansari, six, was raped and murdered by a serial killer in Kasur, east Pakistan, in 2018
The brutal killing of Zainab Ansari, six, sparked outrage across Pakistan in 2018, which has since seen an increase in incidents of rape.
Her body was left in a rubbish dump in Kasur, east Pakistan, by serial killer Imran Ali, 24, who was later sentenced to death and hanged.
She was snatched in early January as she walked to a Koran class.
CCTV footage showed her being led away by a suspect five days before she was found raped and strangled on a rubbish pile about a mile from her home.
An angry mob surrounded the house of Ali shortly after he was arrested and in October he was handed a death sentence after admitting to her murder as well as six other girls.
He was executed in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat prison.
The case was the first among a catalogue of brutal gang rapes and murders seen across the country in recent years.
In April last year, a woman who was gang-raped in Uch Sharif accused a police officer of raping her in a further attack when she went to report the crime. The policeman was later arrested.
A transgender person from Kamalia was dragged out of a car before being tortured and raped by two men later that year.
Four transgender people, from Kamalia in Pakistan, were booked for a festival show at the Mai Maseet Wali Mela near the village Dhoop Sari, on September 20.
They were driving to the city of Jhang when five men intercepted and pulled one of the group to a nearby farmhouse, around 2am.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for violent sex offenders to be hanged or chemically castrated amid outcry over the gang rape of a woman in the country in September this year
Two raped one of the passenger’s while three armed men were on guard.
The victim was later dropped 20 kilometres away in Sahiwal, where they were then collected by colleague Binyamin who was at the festival venue.
The pair reported the incident to Harappa police who were ‘reluctant’ to act on the case, according to Binyamin.
Police arrested five suspects and two of them were nominated.
More recently, a 14-year-old girl died during an abortion six months in to her pregnancy after being repeatedly raped by an uncle.
The girl, identified by local media as Uzma, began living with her maternal aunt and her husband Ghulam Anwar.
A vehicle carries Abid Malhi, one of the suspects in the gang rape of a woman on a desolate highway, following his court appearance in Lahore, Pakistan, on Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Uzma became pregnant and died in September this year after she was raped by Anwar repeatedly.
He and his wife were arrested by Okara police in October after Uzma’s father registered a complaint.
In the same month, two men were arrested for the gang rape of a woman in front of her children on a motorway Lahore.
Abid Malhi was finally arrested after a monthlong manhunt following the high-profile rape in September.
The other suspect, Shafqat Ali, was arrested a week after the assault.
Police had earlier said the woman had locked her car doors when she ran out of fuel on the road in the province of Punjab, where Lahore is the capital, and dialed for help.
But the two men, who were armed, broke a car window and dragged her outside where they raped her.
The attack shocked Pakistan and galvanized women’s rights activists, especially after a senior Punjab police officer, Umar Sheikh, blamed the victim for being alone at night in the car with her two children and for running out of fuel.
On November 10, Rafiq Malik was arrested for the kidnapping and gang-raping of a mother and her four-year-old daughter in Kashmore, a district in Pakistan’s Sindh province.
Police continue to search for his two accomplices.