Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday suggested that convicted rapists undergo surgical castration when asked about the recent gang rape of a woman on a highway.
Two gunmen raped the woman on a deserted highway after her car ran out of gas late at night last week near the city of Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab. Police said she had locked the car doors and called for help, but the attackers broke a window and dragged her out, where they raped her in front of her children.
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A suspect, whom police identified as Shafqat Ali, was arrested on Monday. The second suspect, Abid Malhi, remains on the run.
Khan, in an interview with local broadcaster 99 NEWS, said Malhi was involved in another gang rape in 201
“The way there is a first degree murder, second degree, third degree murder, this [rape] it should be evaluated in the same way and when there is the first degree [rape], castrate them, “Khan said.” Act on them and make them unable to do so.
Khan first proposed public executions by speaking at the station, according to Reuters, but officials told him the punishment could jeopardize Pakistan’s preferential trade status granted by the European Union.
Khan’s comments come as news of the assault sent shockwaves across Pakistan. Dozens of protesters took to the streets of several cities, including Islamabad and Karachi, denouncing attacks on women.
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Gang rapes are rare in Pakistan, although sexual harassment and violence against women are often reported. Nearly 1,000 women are killed in Pakistan every year in so-called “honor killings” for allegedly violating conservative rules on love and marriage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.