A public outcry over the increase in rapes against women and children in Pakistan led to the need for measures to stop the high number of attacks. Under the new law, repeat offenders face chemical castration. The bill will also see speedier court action and more support for victims.
Those found guilty of gang rape will be sentenced to death or imprisoned for the rest of their lives.
The legislation was signed by President Arif Alvi last December after prime minister Imran Kahn and his cabinet approved it.
On Wednesday, the vote in the National Assembly permanently passed the measure into law.
The Pakistani government promised change after protests erupted across the country following the gang-rape of a French woman — as her children watched — outside the city of Lahore, on a deserted highway, in September last year.
She stopped on the road as her car had run out of petrol.
READ MORE: Covid LIVE: Dutch report biggest one-day spike on record – Christmas lockdown panic erupts
The lead investigator Umar Sheikh said the woman should have travelled on a busier road during the day and checked her petrol before setting out was to blame for the attack, sparking public backlash.
Upon the arrest of the two rapists, Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali, Prime Minister Imran Khan called for stricter conviction rates.
He said: “They should be given exemplary punishments.
“In my opinion, they should be hanged at the chowk.
“The way murders are graded as first degree, second degree and third degree, rape should also be graded this way, and the first grade rapists should be castrated and incapable completely.”
The government’s failure to effectively investigate and prosecute sexual violence cases positions Pakistan as a country with pervasive sexual and gender-based violence towards women.
Further, the bill will see the creation of a national sex offenders register and improved witness protection, including crisis rooms in public hospitals designed specifically to treat and examine rape victims within the first few hours after the crime.
Chemical castration involves the use of medication to reduce testosterone.
The medical procedure has been used for child rapists in Poland since 2006.
Paedophiles in Indonesia face the same punishment since 2016, and in Kazakhstan since earlier this year.
The new law is expected to be broadly welcomed by rights activists. However, some argue it doesn’t tackle the root of the problem.
Rimmel Mohydin, South Asia Campaigner of Amnesty International, said last year when the castration measure was under discussion: “Punishments like this will do nothing to fix a flawed criminal justice system.
“Forced chemical castrations would violate Pakistan’s international and constitutional obligations to prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
“Instead of trying to deflect attention, the authorities should focus on the crucial work of reforms that will address the root causes of sexual violence and give survivors the justice they deserve and the protection they need.”