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Govt sets up anti-rape cells in every district

ISLAMABAD: The PTI-led federal government has decided to set up anti-rape crisis cells in every district in order to curb the growing incidents of sexual assault in the country. These cells will be overseen by an Anti-Rape Ordinance Implementation Committee.

According to a notification, the Federal Ministry of Law on Friday constituted the 42-member Anti-Rape Ordinance Implementation Committee to be headed by PTI leader Maleeka Bokhari. Barrister Ambreen Abbasi will be the secretary of the committee

It also includes Justice (retd) Nasira Javid Iqbal; advisers to the law ministry Hasan Mehmood and Zahoor Ahmed as well as representatives of the Ministry of Human Rights, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) and provincial forensic agencies.

The committee will present its recommendations to the prime minister.

Sources in the law ministry said the crisis cells in every district will be led by the respective deputy commissioner and will assist the rape victims. Each cell will also include the respective district police officer and health officer of the district.

The Anti-Rape Ordinance Implementation Committee will also appoint an independent support officer for every cell, the sources said.

The Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases on November 27, 2020 approved two ordinances to introduce harsher punishments for sex offenders including chemical castration and setting up special courts for rape cases.

According to a statement issued by the law ministry, the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 introduce the concept of chemical castration mainly as a “form of rehabilitation”.

“The two state of the art pieces of legislation are in line with the Constitutional guarantees of Pakistan, as also the International treaties,” it read. These laws provide mechanisms to curb sexual abuse crimes against women and children.

Sharing the salient features of the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, the ministry said special courts would be established to conduct trial in rape cases.

Anti-rape crisis cells headed by a commissioner or deputy commissioner will be set up to ensure prompt registration of an FIR, medical examination and forensic analysis.

The law abolishes the inhumane and degrading two-finger virginity testing for rape victims during medico-legal examination and eliminates any attachment of probative value to it.

The ordinance also bars the cross-examination of a rape survivor by the accused. Only the judge and the accused’s lawyers will be able to cross-examine the survivor.

The proposed law also includes in-camera trials, witness protection for the victim and witnesses, use of modern devices during investigation and trial, legal assistance to the victims through the Legal Aid and Justice Authority and appointment of independent support advisers for the victims.

Special prosecutors for the special courts will also be appointed. Investigation will be conducted by joint investigation teams headed by district police officers. A special committee will be formed on a pro-bono basis to ensure overall implementation of the law.

Rules will be issued by the prime minister on the recommendation of the special committee for issuing medico-legal examination and investigation and prosecution guidelines based on the latest modern techniques and devices. Data of sex offenders registered through NADRA will be maintained. A public reporting mechanism will also be devised.

Website: Express Tribune