Imran Khan’s comments came after hundreds of people took to the streets of Pakistan to protest the gang rape of a woman in front of her two children near the eastern city of Lahore.
Members of the VCare Welfare Trust hold placards during a protest against an alleged gang rape of a woman in Karachi on September 13, 2020 (RIZWAN TABASSUM / AFP)
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the worst sex crimes should be punished with chemical castration, following an arrest in a gang rape case that sparked protests across the country.
Hundreds of women have taken to the streets of cities in Pakistan in recent days after a woman was raped in front of her two children as her car ran out of gas near the eastern city of Lahore from the country.
The case sparked further anger after a police officer appeared to blame the victim for driving at night without a male companion.
READ MORE: Outrage in Pakistan after police chief accused victim of gang rape
Asked about the case, Khan said the worst sex crimes should be punishable by public hangings, but added that this could impact trade deals with partners who oppose the death penalty, such as the ‘European Union.
“What I think is that there should be chemical castration, I read that it happens in many countries,” Khan said in an interview with Pakistani news station Channel 92.
“The way the murder is classified: first, second and third degree. This should also be noted, and for first degree sex crimes there should be castration.”
Chemical castration is the use of drugs to reduce a person’s libido.
A suspect arrested
Khan’s comments came after police arrested Shafqat Ali, one of two suspects in the gang rape case.
“His DNA matches and he confessed to the crime,” Punjab Provincial Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said on Twitter.
A senior police official confirmed the arrest, adding that a manhunt was underway for the second suspect.
Following the incident last week, Lahore Police Chief Umar Sheikh faced an angry backlash and called for his resignation after suggesting the rape was at least partially the victim’s fault .
Sheikh apologized on Monday.
Rape is notoriously difficult to prosecute in Pakistan, where women are often treated like second-class citizens.
READ MORE: Pakistani police say gang rape suspects have been identified
Legal expert Osama Malik told AFP the rape conviction rate could be as low as 2%.
“It drops even more in cases where a minor has been raped. This is one of the reasons rape is rarely reported,” he said.
Malik also blamed the societal stigma attached to sex crimes and the “horribly misogynistic attitude” of many police officers for the underreporting of rape cases.
Failures in collecting forensic evidence and poor prosecution practices also contribute to “abysmal” conviction rates, he added.
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