February 27th, 2021

By Rehan Piracha and Ahmed Saeed


LAHORE

This special webinar is part of the ongoing social media campaign ‘Bohat Ho Gaya… Let’s Fight Rape!’ in collaboration with the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.

Admitting that there were gaps in the implementation of anti-rape ordinances, PTI Senator-elect Barrister Ali Zafar said the government is in process of tabling a bill in consultation with opposition legislators and civil society.

Speaking as a panelist on Voicepk.net’s webinar: Let’s Fight Rape…Bohat Ho Gaya on Friday, 26th February, the Senator-elect said the anti-rape ordinances will lapse next month, hinting that the bill on rape investigation might originate from the Senate. Asked about the lapses in implementation of the anti-rape ordinances, Zafar said as member of the draft committee he had suggested an oversight committee for implementation of the anti-rape ordinances but unfortunately that was not done.

‘Training, dissemination not done for anti-rape ordinances’

Similarly, he had suggested training for stakeholders like police officials, prosecutors and judges over the anti-rape ordinances so that the provisions were understood and enforced. Admitting that police officials, legislators and public alike were still unaware of the new legislation on rape investigation, Zafar said he had called for effective dissemination of the provisions incorporated in the ordinances.

‘Punishment for officials ignoring implementation’

Taking note of police negligence in inserting a section of unnatural offense (Section 377 PPC) instead of rape (Section 376 PPC) in the case study of a child rape from Khuzdar, Balochistan, under the recently-promulgated anti-rape ordinances, Zafar said the ordinances included punishment for officials ignoring implementation of laws.

“False investigation or complaint.—(1) Whoever, being a public servant, entrusted to investigate Scheduled offences, fails to carry out the investigation properly or diligently or causes the conduct of false investigation or fails to pursue the case in any court of law properly and in breach of duties, shall be guilty of an offence punishable with imprisonment of either description which may extend to three (03) years and with fine,” reads Section 22 of Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020.

Questioned about the low conviction rates in rape cases despite abundance of legislation, the PTI Senator-elect agreed that there was no point in enhancing sentences of such offenses if the accused are not convicted due to lapses in police investigations and prosecution.

‘Anti-rape ordinances a model for bill’

Quizzed over the rationale of promulgating anti-rape ordinances in a parliamentary democracy, Zafar said legislation should be ideally done through debate and consultation in Parliament. “The anti-rape ordinances were promulgated as legislation required much more time. Secondly, the anti-rape ordinances will serve as a model for further legislation through consultation and debate in the Parliament,” he said.

Ali Zafar said the new sentence of chemical castration for rape was included in public pressure. “Chemical castration is not compulsory under the anti-rape ordinance,” he said, adding that repeat offenders can seek relief in a sentence by undergoing the temporary procedure.

Responding to news reports that the Khyber Teaching Hospital in Peshawar had recommended Rs 25,000 fee for DNA test in rape cases, the PTI Senator-elect said the DNA tests should be free as the Supreme Court had termed it a piece of crucial evidence in rape cases. “if the news reports are true, it’s unconstitutional for a provincial and federal government to ask rape victims to pay DNA test fee,” Zafar said, adding that the State is responsible for providing justice to rape victims. The hospital withdrew the notification of an increase in fees after a massive public outcry.

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