Pakistan: Pair sentenced to death for raping woman in front of children after car ran out of fuel

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Two men have been sentenced to death for raping a woman in front of her children on the side of a motorway after her car ran out of fuel near Lahore in Pakistan.

Abid Malhi and Shafqat Hussain were also sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment, time that must be served before any executions can take place, a judge in Lahore said.

The sentence is seen as a key landmark in Pakistan where many rapes remain unpunished, but many death sentences are later commuted to life imprisonment.

Prosecutors said Malhi and Ali found the woman waiting for help in her car after she ran out of fuel in the eastern province of Punjab in September last year.

She had locked the car doors but the attackers broke a window and dragged her outside where they attacked her at gunpoint in front of her terrified children.

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

They were tracked down via mobile phone data and arrested days after the incident, with DNA samples taken from the crime scene matching those of the men.

The crime drew widespread condemnation across the nation, with some activists demanding that those involved be hanged in public, while others protested on the streets demanding the need for legal reforms to protect women and children.

Fewer than 3% of sexual assault or rape cases result in a conviction in Pakistan, according to the Karachi-based group War Against Rape.

In December, 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.

Malhi and Ali did not hire lawyers and their state-appointed representatives were not available for comment following the sentencing.

Appeals or commutations are likely.