Cabinet clears anti-rape bill; proposes to lower age of consent to 16 years

The union cabinet today cleared the anti-rape bill that proposes stricter punishment for crimes against women and proposes to lower age for consensual sex to 16 years from the existing 18 years.

The bill also proposes to make sustained stalking a non-bailable offence. Offences like voyeurism, inappropriate touch and remarks have also been made non-bailable offences, although the first offence of voyeurism could be a bailable offence.

The new bill, however, proposes no punishment for false cases of alleged crimes against women.

A group of ministers had yesterday cleared the bill.

The bill will now be discussed at an all-party meeting on Monday before being tabled in Parliament.

The new bill retains the word 'rape' in its original form and has been treated as gender-specific, instead of making it gender-neutral.

The bill provides for death penalty to the rapist in cases where the rape leads to the death of the victim or leaves her in a vegetative state.

The minimum punishment is 20 years in jail and can be extend up to the natural life of the convict.

The bill will replace Criminal Laws Ordinance, which was promulgated on 3 February. The Ordinance has to be approved by Parliament in this session. If Parliament fails to do so, then the bill will lapse.