Armed robbers who gang-raped woman at gunpoint in front of her two children sentenced to death

TWO armed robbers have been sentenced to death for the gang rape of a woman in front her two terrified children.

Abid Malhi and Shafqat Hussain broke into the French woman's car after it had ran out of petrol on a motorway in Pakistan, in a case that shocked the country.

An outpouring of anger in Pakistan was further fuelled by a police chief blaming the victim for driving at night without a male companion.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan at the time said convicted rapists should be publicly hanged or surgically castrated.

The two men were convicted of gang rape, kidnapping, robbery and terrorism offences, according to a written order released by a judge in the eastern city of Lahore.

"They've both been handed the death penalty," Chaudhry Qasim Arain, a lawyer for both men, said after verdict and sentencing hearing.

According to the prosecutor and police, Malhi and Ali found the woman waiting for help after her car ran out of fuel on September 9, 20202.

She had called her relatives who advised her to call the motorway emergency numbers and also set off to help her.

The woman locked the car doors but the attackers broke a window and dragged her outside where they raped her at gunpoint in front of her children.

The men also stole money, jewellery, and bank cards before fleeing.

The day after the attack Lahore police chief Umar Sheikh repeatedly berated the victim for driving at night without a man, adding that no one in Pakistani society would "allow their sisters and daughters to travel alone so late".

Sheikh went on to say the woman probably "mistook that Pakistani society is just as safe" as her home country.

The two man were tracked down via mobile phone data and arrested days after the incident.

DNA samples taken from the crime scene matched theirs and the traumatised survivor identified the two men.

Ali then confessed to the crime when he appeared before a magistrate.

Thousands took part in protests, demanding justice and an increase in spending on initiatives that improve women's safety, as well as an end to victim blaming.

In the conservative nation victims of sexual abuse are often are too afraid to speak out and criminal complaints are frequently not investigated seriously.

The country has an abysmal rape conviction rate, with official data putting it as low as 0.3 percent.

In response, at the end of last year Pakistan introduced a new rape law, creating create special courts in a bid to speed up prosecutions and setting up a national sex offender registry.

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