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OVERVIEW

On Saturday, Pakistan saw a Lahore anti-terrorism court (ATC) to have sentenced the two main accused in the infamous motorway gangrape case to death and life imprisonment. 

The convicted, Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali, were so sentenced by ATC Judge Arshad Hussain Bhatta. Such verdict, which was announced in the presence of the accused and prosecution team, was announced at Lahore's Camp Jail. The convicts were to serve their life imprisonment of 14 years before any such execution were to be carried out.

The accused were also fined Rs. 50,000 each and their properties had been confiscated.

The FIR lodged on Malhi and Ali in Gujjarpura police station vide FIR No 1369/20 pressed charges against them under sections 376, 392 and 427 of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

They court found them to be guilty of offences of gang rape, kidnapping, robbery and terrorism.

AFP News Agency was told by the representative of the defendants that an appeal would by filed by them against such verdict.


BACKGROUND 

A Pakistani-French woman, whose name has not been disclosed, was travelling by road in the company of her two children in Lahore when her car broke down due to the lack of fuel in the tank. 

She had asked for help from her relatives who were on their way and she was waiting for such help inside her car when the accused broke in to her car by smashing the closed windows and pulled her and her children out through the broken panes. 

They were subsequently dragged to a nearby field where the woman was gangraped by Malhi and Ali in front of her two children. Post such a heinous act, they robbed such victim of the jewellery that she had on her person, her credit cards and cash approximately of Rs. 100,000.

Such event occurred around September, 2020 and the country brimmed with protests against the heinous crime. The Pakistanis protested against such crime and demanded more stringent laws to deter such acts by providing with exemplary punishment in an attempt for the country being a safer place for women. The Courts responded by an Ordinance in December 2020, which provided for the establishment of special rape courts to expedite proceedings of rape. 

FURTHER DETAILS

The protestors were more enraged by the comments of Umer Sheikh, the most senior police official in Lahore, who opined that the victim was also to blame for such unfortunate event for not checking whether her tank was full, and for not taking a more crowded route. He blamed her for mistaking the roads of Pakistan to be as safe and secure for women as her resident country, France. The protestors were infuriated at the long history of victim-blaming for sexual offences against women.

During the trial, 53 witnesses were presented by the prosecution. Such list included the survivor, the complainant of the FIR and the reporter of such incident on the police emergency helpline.

The accused Malhi and Ali had confessed to have committed the crime while in police custody, but later denied such charges during the trial. They also denied having ever admitting to have committed such offences.

“The survivor had identified the convicts twice during the identification parade in jail and while recording her statement in front of the judge,” the prosecutor Waqar Bhatti stated.

The police report stated that the record of their DNA samples, as had been preserved by the Punjab Forensic Science Agency helped in tracing the accused after receiving such complaint.


CONCLUSION 

War against Rape, a Karachi-based group produced the reports of a survey which showed that as low as 3% of sexual offences against women result in conviction of the accused. Such an infuriating and unfortunate event caused the entire nation to burn in rage which forced the government to formulate new legislation in this aspect which might just aid in making the nation a safer place for women.

The legislation also provided for chemical castration of serial sexual offenders and setting up a national register to record the names of the offenders who are convicted of sexual offences. Such register was only to be accessible by the judicial bodies and judicial officers.

Fast track courts were also set up in order to expedite the delivery of justice to victims of sexual offences. 

DO YOU AGREE WITH DEATH SENTENCE FOR HEINOUS CRIMES SUCH AS GANGRAPE? WHAT IS YOUR OPINION RAGARDING THE BLAMING OF VICTIMS INVOLVING SEXUAL OFFENCES?  DO LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
 

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