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Pakistan toughens law to crack down on rapists

December 16, 2020

Pakistan's president has issued a new law intended to speed up sexual assault cases. It follows months of protests after the gang rape of a women in front of her children along a deserted highway near Lahore.

A woman protests with the words Rape and No written on her hands
The new law is set to go into effect immediatelyImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Naveed

Pakistan has passed a new rape law allowing for the establishment of special courts for rape trials, in an effort to expedite cases dealing with the sexual abuse of women and children.

The new legislation was prompted by the gang rape of a women in front of her children beside a deserted motorway in September. Massive protests rocked Pakistan in the days that followed, urging the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan to take decisive action to prevent sex crimes in the country.

The new law goes into effect immediately, but will require ratification by the parliament within four months.

Strict penalties

"The ordinance will help expedite cases of sexual abuse against women and children. Special courts will be set up across the country to expedite trials and cases of rape suspects as soon as possible," President Arif Alvi said on Twitter on Tuesday.

The new law also provides for anti-rape units that will conduct medical examinations within six hours of a complaint being filed. Disclosing the identity of the victims has been prohibited. Provisions also allow for the creation of a national sex offenders registry.

While lawmakers steered away from the punishment of public hanging for those convicted of the sexual abuse and killing of children, Khan proposed the chemical castration of repeat offenders or those convicted in the most brutal cases.

The text of the new legislation has not been released, but the country's justice minister said the death penalty as well as chemical castration would be included.

see/dj (Reuters, AP)