Pakistan on Tuesday enacted a new anti-rape law that would allow for speedy trial of rape cases, besides providing for chemical castration of repeat sexual offenders.
President Arif Alvi approved the Anti-Rape Ordinance under which special courts could be set up to hear cases about sexual violence incidents, the presidential office said.
The courts dealing with rape cases would now have to decide the cases within four months of the start of the trial. The process for collection of evidence of examination of victims would also be sped up under the new law.
Besides the new law having a provision for chemical castration of the repeat sexual offenders, the government is setting up an offender registry.
Meanwhile, disclosing the identity of the victims has been forbidden under the new law.
The federal cabinet had on Nov. 24 approved the enactment of the new law to "holistically" tackle the crimes of rape and child abuse.
The government's move comes after a sharp increase in rape incidents over the past few years and an extremely low conviction rate in the cases registered by the police.
Pakistan already has stringent anti-rape laws on the books.
However, there have been issues with implementation capacity and prosecution. Moreover, social intimidation and police attitude of discouraging the victims from pursuing the cases are the other causes behind lower conviction.
The newly enacted ordinance has prescribed punishment for police and other government officials who hinder investigations. They can now be given jail sentences for up to three years in addition to fines.
The parliament in October 2016 enacted a new law that made rape a noncommutable offence and prescribed the death penalty for those convicted of raping minors or people with disabilities.