Pakistan’s sexual offences laws are found in the Penal Code 1860 (PC) as amended by the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act 2006 (PWA). The Qanun-e-Shahadat Order 1984 (QSO) contains the rules of evidence relevant to sexual offences.
Pakistan does not have comprehensive laws to address sexual violence. Most of the sexual assault provisions assessed do not meet good practice, for example: the definition of rape is gender specific as it is committed by men against women and covers only penile penetration of a vagina. The law does not take into account the full range of sexual acts that can violate the sexual integrity of a person, whether female or male. The law does not define consent to sexual activity as free and voluntary agreement by a person, does not specify that evidence of resistance to the assault, such as physical injuries to the body, is not necessary to prove that sexual activity took place without consent, or exclude evidence of a complainant’s prior sexual conduct.
There is a single child sexual assault offence and it applies only to girls under 16. There are no close-in-age defences, which are necessary to prevent the criminalisation of consensual sexual activity between people of a similar age when one or both of them is under the age of consent. However, sexual relations outside of marriage is a crime under the Offences Against Property (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance 1979.
Pakistan criminalises consensual same-sex sexual activity between males and the PC uses language that is discriminatory and stigmatising such as ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’. Laws that criminalise consensual same-sex sexual activity should be repealed and all non-consensual sexual acts, including anal ‘rape’, should be included in the standard sexual assault provisions, such as ‘rape’ and ‘sexual assault’, as well as in child sexual offences. All of these crimes should be gender-neutral.
Pakistan is a state party to relevant international human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Read more about the criminalisation of LGBT people in Pakistan.
The full assessment of Pakistan is available here.