Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for the worst sex offenders to be hanged or chemically castrated amid fury over the gang rape of a woman in the country last week.
Khan made his comments while demanding ‘exemplary sentences’ for the woman’s rapists, saying he would sentence them to be hanged at the site of the attack.
But he added that hangings would probably lead to Pakistan being punished by the EU, so it might be better to chemically castrate them.
The attack involved a woman who was dragged from her car at gunpoint and raped in front of her two children after her car broke down.
Speaking on Pakistani TV on Monday, Khan said: ‘What I think is that there should be chemical castration, I have read it is happening in many countries.
‘The way murder is graded: First-, second- and third-degree. This should also be graded, and for first-degree (sex crimes) there should be castration.’
The attack took place in the early hours of Thursday last week after a woman driving on highway near Lahore ran out of petrol and broke down.
She had locked her car doors and called for assistance, but a group of men smashed her window and dragged her out before help arrived.
After the rape ordeal was over, the woman was also robbed.
Police last week arrested 15 men, but said none of them were directly involved in the rape. Officers have since named two primary suspects as Shafqat Ali and Abid Malhi.
Khan spoke out after Shafqat was taken into custody on Monday, with police saying his DNA has matched samples found at the scene, and he has confessed.
Police also named a third suspect, thought he has claimed he was wrongly named because a friend was using his phone sim card at the time of the attack.
He has not been charged, but remains in custody.
Ali was taken into custody during a police raid on his home village in Punjab.
Punjab’s chief minister, Uzman Buzdar, said raids were underway to catch Malhi.
Khan also said, without elaborating, that Malhi had been involved in another gang rape in 2013.
The case has caused outrage in Pakistan, where sexual assaults are thought to be common and rape is rarely prosecuted.
Human rights activists say as few as two per cent of rape cases end in conviction.
Activists have have also demanded the removal of the Lahore police chief, Umar Sheikh, who blamed the victim for going out without a male companion and running out of fuel while commenting on the attack.
The police chief later apologized for his remarks, saying he had not intended to hold the woman responsible for her ordeal.
Gang rape is rare in Pakistan, although sexual harassment and violence against women is frequently reported.
Nearly 1,000 women are killed in Pakistan each year in so-called ‘honor killings’ for allegedly violating conservative norms on love and marriage.