Pakistan Parliament’s joint sitting on Friday passed two important bills, one seeking to curb murders in the name of honour and the other to punish rapists by use of modern technology of DNA testing in probes involving rape cases.
Both the bills, initially moved by former Senator Sughra Imam, were passed unanimously by the Senate sometime back and subsequently moved in the Joint Sitting of the Parliament by Senator Farhatullah Babar on the expiry of Imams term in the Senate.
Under the existing laws a close relative murdered a woman in the name of honour and was promptly pardoned by another close family member. Thus the murderer would walk away literally without any punishment. It cannot be the spirit of religion to condone pre-meditated murder with ulterior murders, he said.
He said that the anti-honour killing Bill was passed by the Senate Committee in 2014 when it was headed by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Senator. Subsequently it was passed by the 104 member Senate by consensus including the religious parties.
He said that under the anti-terror laws murder was not compoundable and Qisas and Diyat did not apply. Similarly, Women Protection Act of 2004 also excluded from compoundability murders. If it was not an issue of ideology and religion, how can it be an issue of ideology now, he asked.
He said that opposition to exclude from Qisas and Diyat law and to make non-compoundable murders in the name of honour was motivated by politics and not religion. The legislation passed by the Joint session today makes 25 years jail mandatory in case of honour killings even if the murderer has been pardoned by other close family members.
About the Anti-Rape Bill he said that a recent study had shown that conviction in rape cases was a mere 2 per cent which means that 98 per cent rapists potentially got scot-free. The is largely because DNA test is not compulsory in rape case under the existing law.
The legislation passed however makes DNA test mandatory in investigations as part of the procedure. Through another amendment enhanced punishment has been provided for rape in police stations and rape of minors and mentally handicapped.
The new legislation also deletes from Qanun e Shahadat the provision relating to questioning the character of the victim of rape. Thus sex workers also get protection of the law against rape. The identity of a rape victim will also be protected under the legislation passed.