ISLAMABAD: To curb increasing rape incidents in the country, the federal cabinet on Tuesday approved in principle two anti-rape ordinances that “change the definition of rape” and are aimed at awarding exemplary punishment to rapists, including chemical castration and hanging, but not in public.

A meeting of the cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, also endorsed a recent decision of the Economic Coor­dination Committee regarding restructuring and retrenchment in the Pakistan International Airlines. The cabinet also discussed over Rs1 trillion Karachi Transfor­mation Plan and the prime minister observed that the plan, aimed at addressing basic civic issues of the metropolis, was not continuing at the pace he desired.

The government termed the approval of the Anti-Rape (Inves­tigation and Trial) Ordinance 2020 and Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 a “big decision” and said it was for the first time in the history of the country that the definition of rape had been changed by incorporating “transgender” and “gang-rape” in it. The proposed law also prohibits controversial “two-finger” test by doctors that involves testing for laxity of vaginal muscles with fingers.

Proposed ordinances change definition of rape, allow chemical castration, hanging of convicts “The federal cabinet has approved anti-rape ordinances which change the basic definition of rape and suggest severe punishment for gang rape and hanging of rapists,” said Information Minister Shibli Faraz in a post-cabinet meeting press conference.

Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari

He said the ordinances would be finalised in a week. Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari said in tweet; “Cabinet Committee on Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) will now finalise (the ordinances) and it should become operational in next few days. It includes an expansive definition of rape, establishment of special court, anti-rape crisis cell; protection of victims and witnesses and prohibition of two-finger test,” she said.

Mr Faraz said Prime Minister Khan, after taking serious notice of a recent rape incident of a mother and her daughter in Sindh, had asked Law Minister Farogh Naseem to prepare comprehensive ordinances encompassing fast-track trial of the accused, comprehensive definition of rape, inclusion of new offences and strict punishments for convicted rapists.

The minister said as the ordinances were of great importance and involved punitive actions against the rapists; it was forwarded to the law division for further improvement. He expressed the hope that the initiative would significantly reduce the number of rape incidents; in the country by creating deterrence against the offence in the society.

Cabinet Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry; termed approval of the ordinances a landmark achievement of the government; by addressing one of the gravest issues of the society. He said the ordinances also permitted chemical castration of habitual rapists. This sort of punishment was first hinted at by the prime minister some time back; when he said such punishment was being awarded to habitual rapists in developed countries.

Another minister said some of the cabinet members called for public hanging of rapists but some others opposed it. Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri is demanding that rapists should be hanged in public; while Law Minister Naseem said public hanging was “un-Islamic” and “unconstitutional” as described by the Supreme Court.

Later, after a discussion on a proposal to appoint lawmakers in board of directors of government entities; Prime Minister Khan said that the matter should be sent to the Supreme Court for seeking guidance. Following the deferring of payment of Pakistan’s $2 billion loans by G-20 states; the cabinet permitted the Economic Affairs Division to make new agreements of re-scheduling of loans with 16 countries of G-20.

To promote information technology in the country, the prime minister ordered establishment of 50 technology zones; in different cities, including Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Haripur and Quetta.