Anti-Rape Ordinance Approved by President

The President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi, has given his approval for the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance of 2020. This good news came on Tuesday to ensure that cases of sexual abuse against children and women are thoroughly expedited. However, some people are of the opinion that this ordinance is ‘holistic’ and ‘stringent’. 

According to this ordinance, various special courts will be set up all over the country. These courts will be in charge of expediting cases and trials of rape at the earliest. A time period of four months has been assigned within which these courts are to deal with the reported rape cases. 

In addition, the ordinance further outlines that the Prime Minister of the country will personally be looking over the establishment of anti-rape crisis cells. The function of these cells will be to conduct medico-legal examinations. However, these examinations must be carried out within a time span of six hours after the occurrence of the incident. 

The ordinance also adds that a registry of sex offenders be established at the national level. The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has been asked to assist with this process. It goes on to state that rape victims cannot be identified. In case that they are, the person doing so will be found guilty in the eyes of the law.

Just last month, on the 7th of November, two ordinances were approved by the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases. These ordinances related to harsher sentences for those committing offenses that are sexual in nature and setting up of special courts to go over rape cases. One of the several punishments outlined for a sex offender is chemical castration. 

The law ministry also issued a statement to talk about these ordinances. According to the ministry, the inclusion of chemical castration in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 and Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020, has been done to ensure rehabilitation of the perpetrators. These two ordinances also go hand in hand with International treaties and the Constitutional guarantees of the country. 

The statement added that these laws will provide appropriate mechanisms to curb sexual abuse crimes committed against children and women. 

The ministry further talked about the salient features of the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020. They said that the establishment of special courts will be done for the sole purpose of carrying out trials in rape cases. The anti-rape crisis cells which are going to be set up soon, will be headed by a deputy or commissioner. This will ensure the timely registration of an FIR, forensic analysis, and medical examination. 

The law has sought to abolish the degrading and inhumane two-finger virginity test that is usually conducted for the victims of sexual abuse. This is part of the routine medico-legal examination and is responsible for eliminating any attachment of probative value to it. 

The ordinance also prohibits the cross-examination of the survivor of the crime by the accused themselves. Instead, only the judge and the lawyers of the accused can cross-examine the rape survivor.