Pakistan passes law allowing chemical castration of rape defendants

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Pakistan, one of the most notorious global violators of women’s rights, has passed a landmark law allowing convicted rapists to be chemically castrated. The measure was opposed by religious parties, however, in a rare sign of compromise with men who are known to have the repugnant trait of committing sex crimes.

The bill was passed in the Pakistani Senate on Thursday by a vote of 29 to 19. Reuters reported that it also increases the number of crimes for which a rape conviction in Pakistan can mean the death penalty, among other reforms. The United Nations earlier estimated that “500,000 women and girls across the country are the victims of domestic and sexual violence each year.” According to Reuters, even men suspected of having committed the crime are protected by the blasphemy law in Pakistan, which punishes anyone who endorses Islam with death.

“The writing is on the wall and it’s all going to change,” said Neerja Gogoi, who supported the new legislation as a senator.

The success of the new law highlights how the tide has turned in Pakistan after protests last year by women like Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan forced the government to do something about a justice system that has too often failed to protect women from rapists. The country’s military “is testing this new gender-friendly approach to a country desperate for a solution,” the BBC reported.

The senators’ compromise moved many secular Pakistanis who had once been critical of making the measure into supporters. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has previously defended the legislation. “This is a group of people who were living in darkness,” said Farzana Bari, one of the new senators. “I hope it opens the door for many other reforms.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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