Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan says rapists should be handed down the most severe punishments to curb rising violence against women in the country.
He suggested either hanging them publicly or chemically castrating them.
The premier expressed his views during an interview on 92 News.
He was commenting on a motorway gang-rape case that has caused a storm of anger across Pakistan and focused the public’s attention on sexual violence against women.
Imran said the motorway rape had “shaken the entire nation” because the victim could have been anyone’s sister or daughter.
The case he was referring to, according to Dawn, happened in Lahore on Sept 10. A woman was dragged out of her car and gang-raped at gunpoint by two men in front of her children.
The lack of assistance given to her by the authorities and the unforgivable remarks on social media, show the current levels of Pakistani society’s disdain for women.
Imran said he was shocked when police told him that sex crimes in the country are climbing sharply.
“Rapists should be given exemplary punishments. In my opinion, they should be hanged in the town square,” he said, adding that this punishment should also apply to those who abuse children.
“Unfortunately, I was told such punishment would not be internationally acceptable,” he said. “Our trading status given to us by the European Union would be jeopardised.”
He said another option was to “chemically or surgically castrate” rapists, according to the severity of the crime, “as is done by many countries”.
Khan noted that the primary suspect in the motorway rape was also previously involved in a gang-rape in 2013.
“We need fresh legislation to permanently sterilise such criminals,” he said.
Two days after the motorway rape, several organisations who work for women’s rights held protests across the country to demand justice for the victim.
They also called for widespread reforms, but in a written statement they did not support the PM’s calls.
According to Dawn, their statement read: “We oppose the calls for public hangings and capital punishment, as they have no correlation with the prevention or deterrence of rape, rather they only serve to satiate short-term public pressure.”
Reuters reports that in February, lawmakers proposed legislation for the public hanging of those convicted of sexual abuse and the murder of children, but the law was not passed.