On the anvil: Senate panel approves changes in anti-rape laws

Published: January 21, 2015
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Supports DNA profiling as crucial evidence in investigation process. PHOTO: AFP

Supports DNA profiling as crucial evidence in investigation process. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

A parliamentary panel on Tuesday approved amendments in the country’s anti-rape laws, supporting DNA profiling as crucial evidence during the investigation process.

The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice, which took up `The Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Amendment) Bill, 2014’ introduced by Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Sughra Imam, observed that modern scientific tools, including DNA profiling which is used as a vital tool globally in the investigation of sexual assault cases.

Delving into the debate on the legislation, former law minister Senator Farooq H Naek proposed an amendment in section 376, Act XLV of 1860 seeking a revision in the pre-set age bracket of the rape victims under the Pakistan Penal Code. In addition, the PPP lawmaker said that medical examination in cases of rape should only take place at government-run hospitals.

The body also approved an amendment in Article 151, Order X of 1984 (The Qanun-e-Shahadat Order, 1984) barring the character assassination of victims during the trial.

Supporting the amendment, PPP legal wizard Aitzaz Ahsan said that in some cases “people do not lodge rape cases fearing stigmatisation, and character assassination of their daughters.”

Naek pointed out that the amendment would also provide protection to sex-workers in the country, who under the current law have no legal protection.

Following the deliberation on the legislation, committee chairman Senator Muhammad Kazim Khan asked Sughra Imam to submit the bill, after incorporating the proposed amendments by the lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the panel deferred Haji Muhammad Adeel’s bill seeking the status of national language for a number of regional languages.

“Regional languages should be given space but not at the cost of the national language,” said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmaker Raja Zafarul Haq.

Opposing the proposal, Naek said that National Assembly has rejected a similar bill earlier.  He added that “We have failed to promote Urdu as per the Constitution and it would further complicate the matter when five languages are added to the list.”

Though several members indirectly opposed the bill proposed by Adeel, PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan asked the chairman to defer the debate on the legislation.

The committee also deferred another constitutional amendment bill proposed by PPP Senator Raza Rabbani seeking reserved seats for labourers in the legislature.

Similarly, the panel also deferred “The Protection against Harassment of women at workplace (amendment) bill 2014,” for further discussion.  The bill was moved by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2015.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Anon
    Jan 21, 2015 - 11:47AM

    Why need law when something like this doesn’t happen in Pakistan……these kind of incidents only happen in India..

    Recommend

  • indian
    Jan 21, 2015 - 12:19PM

    @Anon:
    yeah right.

    Recommend

  • anum ikram
    Jan 21, 2015 - 4:45PM

    This is a great step in the right direction, I wonder if the 4 witnesses to a rape clause has been removed as well? On the workplace sexual harassment against women bill, it should not be deferred to a later time, this is happening now, in workplaces all over Pakistan. It is the right of every woman to feel safe in her workplace, not a favour that men bestow upon women. Laws protecting this right would go a long way towards woman taking charge in the workplace.

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  • Anser
    Jan 21, 2015 - 5:13PM

    @Anon seriously?!? i’m sure you must be joking.. or you live in a Pakistan existing in a parallel universe, well then lucky you. I’m sure in ‘your’ Pakistan there are zero bomb blasts and zero terrorists. Denial won’t get you anywhere.

    On the other hand thank you to the Senate Standing Committee for approving the very obvious amendment. Let’s hope it is applied rightfully to provide justice for the victims of such crime.

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  • Pakistan First
    Jan 21, 2015 - 5:18PM

    @Anon:

    You don’t seem to live in Pakistan.. If you were than you would know the reality..Recommend

  • Mirza
    Feb 24, 2015 - 11:02AM

    @Anon: Seriously??? You are joking right? Recommend

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