- Trying to look good without substance
The federal cabinet’s approval of an ordinance allowing rape to be punished by hanging, or chemical castration, shows not just a kneejerk reaction to a number of recent incidents, but also a suspicious ignoring of some of the commonsense administrative measures that would lead to the crime being deterred. Perhaps the biggest problem with the Cabinet decision is that it has come about through an ordinance being promulgated, meaning that the government will be seen to have done something, but when the ordinance expires after six months, the law will lapse.
Of course, if any cases have been finalized, sentences may be executed, but there lies the problem. On the one hand, anyone executed will stay that way. Anyone chemically castrated will return to the status quo if the chemical is stopped because the covering ordinance expires. Anyway, chemical castration has never before been used a punishment, and where it is in vogue, it is merely a condition of release on probation. As with much else the government does, this too seems a measure not intended to achieve anything substantial, but merely to make the government look good.
For a government less concerned with optics and more concerned with eliminating the offence, a closer harder look at how the justice system deals with such cases, especially investigation and prosecution would have been the more logical approach. The most fruitful government intervention would come by ensuring that victims come to the police. At present, the attitude of the police is demeaning enough as they seem to do the job of the defence counsel, whose cross-examination is full of innuendo and hostility, which victims may find as bad as the original crime. A lot of complaints are suppressed because victims prefer to avoid the ill repute the claim will get them, all too often for the reward of their accusation being rejected. However, if the government posts officers who persist in victim-shaming, as the CCPO Lahore did after his initial outburst in the Motorway rape, rape will not be deterred, no matter how many laws are temporarily promulgated.