ISLAMABAD,(Parliament Times):As world marks the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, the PTI Led Government in Pakistan is all set to promulgate historic Anti-Rape legislation to set up special courts for rape and other sexual offences against women & children. Today the Cabinet Committee on Legislative cases chaired by the Law Minister approved the two Ordinances, whilst earlier the cabinet had granted an in principle approval for the same. This is an important moment in Pakistan’s legislative history, and the protection of rights of women, girls & children across the country. The Federal Minister for Law and Justice Senator, Dr Barrister Farogh Naseem worked extensively over this month, with the assistance of his team comprising the Parliamentary Secretary, Barrister Maleeka Bokhari Law Secretary (Raja Naeem Akbar) and Barrister Ambreen Abbasi Consultant to finalize the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020 & the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020. These two state of the art pieces of legislation are in line with the Constitutional guarantees of Pakistan, as also the International treaties.
These laws provide mechanisms to arrest the atrocious rape and sexual abuse crimes against women and children. The draft Ordinance “the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020” includes the following salient features:-
(i) establishment of Special Courts;
(ii) creation of Anti-Rape Crisis Cells to be headed by Commissioner or Deputy Commissioners, who will ensure prompt registration of the FIR, medical examination and forensic analysis etc.;
(iii) abolishing the inhumane and degrading two finger virginity testing for rape victims during medico-legal examination, and eliminating any attachment of probative value to it;
(iv) putting a bar on the cross-examination of rape victim by accused, thereby only allowing judge and accused’s lawyers to the same;
(v) in-camera trials;
(vi) witness protection for the victim and witnesses in a more
(vii) use of modern devices during investigation and trial;
(viii) legal assistance to the victims through the Legal Aid and Justice Authority ;
(v) creation of Independent Support Advisers, who will provide support to the victims;
(vi) appointment of special prosecutors for Special Courts;
(vii) investigation by JITs headed by District Police Officers;
(viii) creation of a Special Committee on pro bono basis to ensure overall implementation of the law;
(ix) rules by the Prime Minister, upon the recommendation of the Special Committee for the purposes of issuing medico-legal examination and investigation and prosecution guidelines, to be based upon the latest modern techniques and devices;
(x) maintenance of data of sex offenders register through NADRA; and
(xi) a public reporting mechanism has also been introduced since the entire nation has been called upon to fight the menace of sexual offences against women and children.
3. The second draft Ordinance namely “Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020” includes the following salient features:-
(i) substitution of the existing section 375 of the PPC with a new provision so as to provide new definition of “rape”, which would extend to females of all ages and male victims under the age of 18 year
(ii) in addition to rape, the offence of gang rape has also been considered to be addressed; and
(iii) in respect of first or repeated offenders, the concept of chemical castration has also been introduced mainly as a form of rehabilitation, and subject to consent.