South Asia

Pakistan’s lawmakers back castration in new anti-rape law

Published : November 19, 2021 17:49 IST

Pakistan introduced chemical castrations following a surge in attacks against women and children. Photo: Reuters

Rights groups have criticized the punishment as too cruel, saying the issue needs looking into its root causes.

Chemical castration can be used as punishment for serial rapists under an anti-rape law that has been passed by Pakistan's parliament, officials said on November 18. Those involved in repeated offenses, gang rapes and pedophiles face undergoing the procedure. The government agencies will have to maintain a database of offenders and courts will have to complete the trials within four months, according to the law.

The parliament passed the law on November 17, nearly a year after the government introduced it.

Increasing offenses

The punishment follows an increasing rate of sexual assault incidents against women and children. Life imprisonment and the death penalty are the current methods of punishment for rapists and pedophile offenders under Pakistan's criminal code. Authorities want to also set up special courts in order to speed up the judicial process.

In 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the castration penalty should be introduced following the gang rape of a mother in front of her children on a major highway. The crime caused national outrage at the time and prompted widespread protests. In March, two men were sentenced to death for the crime.

According to the nongovernmental organization War Against Rape, less than 3 per cent of rapists in Pakistan are convicted for their crimes.

Rights groups slam law

Lawyer Rizwan Khan said the law is an "oversimplified solution for a complex problem that needs a holistic review of the entire criminal justice system." Some rights groups have labeled the measure too cruel. Amnesty International has suggested the correct course of action would be to investigate the root causes of sexual violence — rather than harsher punishment.

kb/fb (dpa, Reuters)

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