Parliamentary joint session unanimously approved Anti-Rape Bill

Parliamentary joint session  unanimously approved Anti-Rape Bill — Updated 7 minutes ago

ISLAMABAD: Joint session of the Parliament generally approved Anti-Honour Killing and Anti-Rape bills encouraged by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar on Thursday.Before moving the bill, the Senator well-versed the joint session: “The bill will prove to be helpful in shortening rape cases across the country.”Debating during the session, Law Minister Zaid Hamid revealed that the perpetrator of the crime will also be medically examined after this bill is turned into law. “The verdicts in the rape cases will have to be given within three months, with the right to appeal in six months,” he added. “The police station will be obliged to inform the victims of their legal rights,” Hamid said, adding, “We have made it mandatory that the culprit must be imprisoned for 25 years.”

In July, days after the ‘honour’ killing of social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch, a committee comprising lawmakers from both the lower and upper houses of parliament unanimously approved two bills aimed at tackling ‘honour’ killings and boosting rape convictions.

The perpetrators of honour killings – in which the victim, normally a woman, is killed by a relative – often walk free because they can seek forgiveness for the crime from another family member.

Rape conviction rates meanwhile are close to zero per cent, largely due to the law’s reliance on circumstantial evidence and a lack of forensic testing.

The law minister earlier said, “We have plugged all loopholes in the anti-honour killing legislation.”

According to Hamid, under the new law relatives of the victim would only be able to pardon the killer of capital punishment, but they would still face a mandatory life sentence of twelve-and-a-half years.

In the anti-rape bill, “a provision to conduct DNA tests on both the alleged victim and perpetrator has been added for the first time”, he said. The rape of minors, as well as the mentally and physically ill, would become punishable by death.

A 2005 amendment to the law pertaining to ‘honour’ killings prevented men who kill female relatives pardoning themselves as an “heir” of the victim.

But punishment was left to a judge’s discretion when other relatives of the victim forgive the killer – a loophole which critics say is exploited.

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