On Tuesday, President Dr Arif Alvi accorded approval to the Anti-Rape Ordinance 2020, which will ensure speedy trials of rape cases with women and children as victims, and also allow for chemical castration of those convicted of such offences.
However, contrary to the draft approved by the Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases (CCLC), the consent of the convict will not be required for carrying out castration, instead it will be at the discretion of the judge of the trial court. Consent for the purpose of chemical castration was introduced in the draft bill since international law makes it mandatory to receive the consent of the convict before castration. If the accused does not agree to chemical castration, according to the law ministry, he would be dealt with in accordance with the Pakistan Penal Code in which the court may award him a death sentence, life imprisonment or 25 years’ in jail.
The statement issued by the Presidential House on Tuesday stated that special courts would be established throughout the country for speedy trials of sexual assault suspects. The courts would have to wrap up the cases within four months, it added. Under the ordinance, anti-rape crisis cells would be set up for conducting medico-legal examinations of the victims within six hours of the incident.
However, human rights activists and constitutional experts have termed the ordinance allowing for the castration of rapists as useless and an eyewash, and they ruled out the possibility of it countering the menace of rape through such a punishment. According to them, strict and vigilant enforcement of the existing laws is something that would create real deterrence for the rapists.