While the joint session of parliament on Wednesday did approve new anti-rape laws, allowing for quick verdicts and harsh punishments for rapists, the clause seeking chemical castration for habitual offenders was repealed at the last minute through an amendment moved by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker Maleeka Bokhari.
It was initially reported that the chemical castration clause was part of the anti-rape laws approved by the joint session. The error is regretted.
According to the bill, “chemical castration is a process duly notified by rules framed by the prime minister, whereby a person is rendered incapable of performing sexual intercourse for any period of his life, as may be determined by the court through administration of drugs which shall be conducted through a notified medial board”.
The bill was in response to public anger over the recent spike in reported cases of sexual violence against women and minors as well as increased calls for efficient crime prevention.
The government would be required to set up special courts across Pakistan to speed rape suspects' hearings and decide sexual abuse cases "as quickly as possible, preferably within four months."
With the support of the National Database and Registration Authority, a nationwide registry of sex offenders will be kept under the bill.
Victims' identities will be safeguarded, and special "anti-rape crisis cells" will be established to undertake medical tests on victims within hours of the crimes.
Those found guilty of gang rape will be condemned to death or life in prison, although repeat offenders would not chemical castration.
According to critics, only about 4% of sexual assault and rape cases in Pakistan result in a conviction.
In Pakistan's society, victims of sexual assault are often discouraged from seeking justice for fear of being disgraced or prosecuted by authorities or even their own relatives.