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November 29, 2020

Legal experts term anti-rape laws a gimmick

National

November 29, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The legal fraternity has termed the proposed laws against rape and sexual abuse of women and children a gimmick and said mere legislation will not solve the problem unless policing is improved and the prosecution is properly trained.

Legal wizards, some of whom have dealt with such heinous cases, opined that castration was no solution rather it was detracting the debate on real reforms.

They said there were sufficient laws available to tackle heinous crimes like rape, gang-rape and child sexual abuse but these were not implemented.

The Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases, chaired by Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem, the other day approved the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance 2020 and Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2020. The ordinances have already been approved in principle by the federal cabinet.

"These are gimmicks and will not solve the problem,” said Rana Waqar, former additional attorney general.

“The laws in other countries are less harsh but the crime is under control and convenient crime rate 100 percent, so the problem is not with the laws," he said.

He said the crime had risen because appointments in the police department during the last three decades had not been made on merit. Moreover, he said there had been political interference in investigation, postings and transfer.

"The lower judiciary like all other state institutions has been systematically destroyed. Corruption and lack of accountability are also contributing factors. The society overall is also in the decaying mode,” Rana Waqar said.

Such kind of legislation, which is ex-facie inhuman and cruel, is not going to serve the purpose, he said.

“The bill is nothing but an attempt to please the prime minister who was fixated on the idea, said Ashter Ausaf, senior lawyer and former attorney general for Pakistan.

He said the law minister was absolutely correct that punishment could not be inflicted without free consent of the convict.

“This is like a plea bargain offer to the perpetrator of a heinous crime which gives him a licence to seek his freedom,” he said, adding that more often than not such criminals also commit murder of the victim so as to conceal their own identity.

He said the rapists were not just sex offenders rather they were violent people who must be locked up for life.

“We also need to educate our future generations on how to respect and behave towards the female gender. Harsh legislation is not an appropriate response to deal with the rape cases.

“Rape is already punishable with death or imprisonment for life,” said Abid Saqi, Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council.

"What further this legislation will add to an already crumbling justice system? We need to put in place an efficient system of policing and investigation to secure conviction for the real offenders.”

He said justice system needed a complete overhaul, as harsh laws were already available to punish criminals but the conviction rate was very low because sufficient evidence was not collected by the police.

“This law is absurd, full of contradictions and badly drafted,” Saqi said.

Meanwhile, former additional advocate general Punjab Ms Afshan said castration was no solution rather it was detracting the debate on real reforms.

“There are sufficient laws available to tackle the offence of rape, gang rape and child sexual abuse but these are not implemented. Violence for violence has never worked,” she said.

Afshan said she was neither in favour of public hangings nor chemical castration and dismissed both ideas because these were far from being a long-term solution.

“Castration is indeed inhuman, a degrading punishment and infringes others rights as well, so the government must think on these lines as well,” she concluded.