Pakistan court sentences two to death for gang-rape that prompted protests

A Pakistan court Tuesday sentenced two men to death for the gang rape of a woman on the side of a highway last year. The pair were convicted of gang rape, kidnapping, robbery and terrorism offences. The woman was attacked in front of her two children in September after her vehicle ran out of fuel.

The incident led to protests in the country, with protestors calling for tougher laws on rape. The situation was worsened when a senior police officer handling the case blamed the victim. The officer questioned why the victim had not taken a busier route or checked her tank before departing.  Members of the public questioned the statements made by the officer and rebutted terming them as victim blaming and judging the victim.

To ensure that rape is dealt with expeditiously an ordinance was enacted in December 2020. The ordinance calls for the establishment of special courts across the country to try offences scheduled in the ordinance. A system to protect victims and witnesses is also envisaged in the ordinance. A register of sex offenders shall also be prepared at the national level with details of the register only being accessible to a court of law or a law enforcement agency. The law was welcomed by women rights activists who also called for better policing and prosecution of rape suspects.

The men were also sentenced to life imprisonment, fined and had their property confiscated.