President Alvi approves new anti-rape ordinance

Special courts to be set up across Pakistan under the ordinance to expedite trials, cases of sexual abuse

Rizwan Shehzad   December 15, 2020
Protestors at the Karachi Press Club hold placards at a demonstration held against the motorway gang-rape incident. PHOTO: AFP/File


President Dr Arif Alvi approved the government's "stringent" and "holistic" Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020 on Tuesday, to help expedite cases of sexual abuse against women and children.

Under this ordinance, special courts are to be set up across the country to expedite trials and cases of rape at the earliest. The courts are to deal with rape cases within four months.

Moreover, the ordinance maintains that the prime minister is to look over the establishment of anti-rape crisis cells, authorised to conduct medico-legal examinations within six hours of the incident.

The ordinance also includes establishing of a sex offenders' registry at the national level with the help of National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA). It also prohibits the identification of rape victims and makes it a punishable offense.

Earlier, on November 7, the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases approved two ordinances to introduce harsher punishments for sex offenders including chemical castration and setting up special courts for rape cases.

According to a statement issued by the law ministry, the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 introduce the concept of chemical castration mainly as a “form of rehabilitation”.

“The two state of the art pieces of legislation are in line with the Constitutional guarantees of Pakistan, as also the International treaties,” it read.

These laws provide mechanisms to curb sexual abuse crimes against women and children.

Sharing the salient features of the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, the ministry said special courts would be established to conduct trial in rape cases.

Anti-rape crisis cells headed by a commissioner or deputy commissioner will be set up to ensure prompt registration of an FIR, medical examination and forensic analysis.

The law abolishes the inhumane and degrading two-finger virginity testing for rape victims during medico-legal examination and eliminates any attachment of probative value to it.

The ordinance also bars the cross-examination of a rape survivor by the accused. Only the judge and accused’s lawyers will be able to cross-examine the survivor.


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