Following the unfortunate incident of motorway gang rape at Lahore’s area of Gujjar Pura, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has called for castration of rape convicts. There has been a staggering rise in rape cases across the country even though Pakistan mainly deals with these cases per Sharia Laws, and has also devised myriad other laws. So the questions that have to be pondered are: Is there any need for further legislation for much diverse, severe and stringent punishments for rapists in the country? How the countries of the world have devised laws and punishments for rapists? And how can castration be the ultimate punishment for the rapists in Pakistan?
In different countries around the world, there are starkly different laws towards sexual assault. The majority of Muslim countries by 2013 made ‘Hudud’ applicable. In 1980, the Islamic Republic of Iran stoned to death four offenders in Kerman. By the late 1980s, Mauritania, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates enacted laws to grant courts the power to hand down ‘Hadd’ penalties. During the 1990s Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and northern Nigeria followed suit. Also, Saudi Arabia is quite straight forward; there are public beheadings for rape culprits within days, also KSA has the same punishment for drug trafficking as well. Afghanistan also has laws for a shoot in the head or hanged to death for the convicted rapists. Egypt has laws to death by hanging in the case of rapists. Similarly, Iran hangs rapists to death; and also by stoning at times.
In Israel, there are 16 years to life imprisonment for the rapist. The powerful most country in the world, the USA, has imprisonment for life to a convicted rapist. In Russia, there is 3 to 20 years sentence in prison. Amongst Nordic states, like Norway which is considered to be the most stringent places concerning rape punishments because any sort of sexual behaviour without consent comes under the rubric of rape there, the culprits are thrown behind bars for 4 to 15 years depending on the intensity of the crime.
In neighbouring India, there is life imprisonment to a death sentence for the rapist, after April 2013 by the Anti-Rape Bill 2013. The least visited and most restricted country like North Korea has laws for death by firing squad to the rapist. Much astonishing is the fact that in North Korea, even watching pornographic content is highly restricted, and punishment of death sentence is applicable if anyone caught in doing so. In France, the government is pretty hardcore about rape laws. They have laws for15 year sentences for rape, which can be extended to 30 years or life-long imprisonment. China also has stringent laws regarding rape cases; the death sentence or castration is the ultimate justice for victims.
In Pakistan, for child rapes the National Assembly in this year’s inception by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan passed a contentious resolution for the public hanging of child sexual abusers. However, many politicians from different political parties of the country openly opposed the bill. For instance, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said, “Ramping up the severity of punishments does not result in a reduction in crime.” He further added, “We cannot put public hanging into practice as it violates the laws of the United Nations,” The Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry also vehemently denied the resolution and “strongly condemned” it. Also, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari and MOHR Ministry of Human Rights (MOHR) opposed the step.
As of now, there are multiple laws which have been devised in this country for dealing with child-related offences. The Punjab Destitute and Neglected Children Act, 2004; The KP Child Protection and Welfare Act (CPWA) which was enacted in 2010. The Sindh Child Protection Authority Act, 2011, enacted in June 2011. Balochistan Child Protection Act, 2016, enacted in November 2016. These laws include definitions of different categories of violence against children including exploitation, mental and physical violence, sexual abuse and such others. Apart from that, multitudes of utmost amendments have been made in Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) through the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 2016.
Pakistan, being a Majority Muslim state, deals with rapists according to classic Islamic law (Shari`a) which regard the offence of sexual violation as a coercive Zina and applies under a Hadd offence. In 1979, Pakistan instituted the Hudud Ordinances. The punishments under Hudud ordinance range from public lashing to publicly stoned to death. Hudud ordinance punishment must be carried out in public and neither state nor the victim can be pardoned. Despite harsh punishments in the Sharia law, the procedure of producing witnesses is quite complex for victims to have justice. However, in 2006 the passing of the Protection of Women Act which was thought to be a positive move towards secularism seemed to signify an avenue for which rape victims could seek relief. However, the implementation of the Act passed to protect women, did much less in the way of women’s rights. It is also observed that all the punishments for the culprits are very rarely in practice in the country with the conviction rate of only 2%.
So now, can castration be the possible solution to cope with rape culture? Already, Azad Kashmir has passed a bill allowing chemical or surgical castration as a punishment for those found guilty of child sexual abuse, so that it could serve as a deterrent for others. The manner of castration, whether surgical or chemical, was to be decided by the judiciary.
Globally, castration as a legal punishment for child sexual abuse exists in various countries around the world. In the USA, Alabama has enacted a law for rapists who eventually undergo chemical castration before their release or parole. There are other around 8 states like California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin as well that authorize chemical castration for sex offenders. Several other countries including South Korea, Indonesia Argentina, Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, India, Israel, Moldova, New Zealand, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and Russia also punish rapists via castration under their respective laws.
Now, why castration can be the ultimate solution to cope with rape culture?
Firstly, some men rape for nothing more than the display of their masculinity and exertion of their power; and no punishment so far has been a deterrent in the country. Since all other efforts have failed, now it is the time to follow castration as punishment like other countries of the world. However, there can be moral, medical, social, legal as well as political issues involved; yet hasn’t everything else failed? If it’s the question of display of their masculinity then should that toxic masculinity not be removed and eradicated?
These are indeed desperate times in the country, and desperate measures are needed if innocent lives are to be saved. Because the castration could finally protect the society from serial rapists and save the children and women from the dragons. The castration can be both chemical and surgical, and both castrations should be used on sex offenders because it would act as ‘deterrent’ and retribution in the longer run. But only one-time chemical castration is not enough, as it would not justify with the victims suffering indeed.
So how castration should be implemented?
As it is commonly claimed that one of the primary aims of punishment is to rehabilitate offenders so that they will not re-offend; rape falls in a different category. No one should again feel unsafe because of a released rapist who has been rehabilitated after the punishment. Hence, there should be sporadic chemical castration with one-time minor surgical castration as a symbolic lesson for other men who try to show masculinity to women.
Another most important explanation for chemical castration is to be found in retributive approaches to the justification of punishment. Although, apparently for the public the death penalty might be more severe than the use of chemical castration, yet sporadic chemical castration is deemed more fitting for sexual offenders. The rapist, after becoming a eunuch, despite having a muscular body would feel the highest form of repentance; which is intolerable not only physically but also would make the rapists conscience-smitten.
Further to punishment, such rapists after castration could serve as Eunuchs in the jails. For instance, historically eunuchs used to be servants or slaves who had been castrated to make them reliable servants of a royal court and for lowly domestic functions. The concept of sporadic chemical castration refers to making rapists castrated for some months or years. And when their male glands again start functioning, the cycle is repeated. Ultimately, men who usually do not control or discipline their detestable lust and masculinity would shiver in their shoes after seeing such retributive justice, before even thinking to rape a child or a woman. However, this comes in line with a well-put criminal justice system and reforms in the country.