Rights activists slam Pakistan’s new law to castrate rapists

Islamabad, Dec 17 (efe-epa).- Human rights activists on Thursday criticized a recent decree signed by the president of Pakistan allowing forced chemical castration for rapists.

The measure by the government had come in response to a series of recent rape incidents in the country, which have caused widespread outrage among the population.

“Chemical castration is cruel and inhuman. It is not a guarantee to end rape cases in the country,” spokesperson of the nonprofit Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Maheen Paracha, told EFE, adding that criminals too have human rights.

Earlier this week, President Arif Alvi signed two laws to combat sexual violence.

The 2020 Anti-rape Ordinance provides for the creation of special courts that will try rape cases and give a verdict in four months, according to an official statement and a Twitter post by the presidential office on Tuesday.

Alvi also signed the Criminal Law 2020, which amends the Penal Code to include castration as punishment for rape.

Although no statement was issued regarding the latter amendment, the presidential office confirmed to EFE on Thursday that the Criminal Law 2020 has also been signed by the president.

“It provides for chemical castration as a punishment,” said the president’s office.

The new law would be applicable to both repeat offenders as well as those who commit the crime for the first time, who could face castration for extreme violence during the crime.

In both cases, the judges of the special courts would decide the degree of punishment for the sex offenders.

Given that these legal measures have been introduced as ordinances, the government has 120 days to get them approved in the Parliament for them to become permanent.

Activists have underlined that castration will not help eradicate the crime of sexual violence in the country, and that it also went against international norms and practices.

“Forced chemical castrations would violate Pakistan’s international and constitutional obligations to prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner Rimmel Mohydin said in a statement.

The activist felt that these punishments would not help improve the justice system and that the authorities should instead focus on the causes of sexual violence.

In a statement, watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) also warned against resorting to populist measures against sexual violence and stressed on the need to implement existing laws.

Farieha Aziz, co-founder of the digital rights advocacy group Bolo Bhi, stressed that Pakistan already had adequate laws and procedures in place, but proper implementation has been lacking.

The ordinance was approved by the Pakistani cabinet towards the end of November after a series of incidents of rape and sexual abuse rocked the country.

The final straw was the rape of a woman in September in front of her two children after their vehicle ran out of gas in the middle of the road at night.

This incident sparked a wave of outrage in Pakistan and led to calls for urgent action over the lack of adequate protection for women.

Soon after, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that he would bring a “stringent, holistic anti-rape ordinance closing all (legal) loopholes.”

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