A top Senate body in Pakistan has recommended to the government that the convicts who have raped minors should be hanged in public as a sign of harsh punishment to deter others from committing such heinous crimes.

The Senate Standing Committee on Interior has suggested those who kidnap or rape children, under the age of 14, should be hanged in public. Proposing an amendment to the Pakistani constitution, the body has argued such a severe measure would act as a deterrence and "could prevent others from committing a similar crime".

The extreme recommendation comes just a day after the country's police arrested a key suspect, Imran Khan, in the connection with the rape and murder of a young girl named Zainab.

In a case which had sent shockwaves across Pakistan, Zainab's body was found from a heap of trash on 9 January – five days after she had gone missing. A medical examination later found the victim was raped before she was strangled to death. The exact age of Zainab is still unclear with reports suggesting it was between six and eight.

The existing Pakistani legislation reads: "Whoever kidnaps or abducts any person under the [age of fourteen] in order that such person may be murdered or subjected to grievous hurt... or to the lust of any person [sic] shall be punished with death."

But, the Senate committee wants to amend the law add "by hanging publicly" at the end of the reading. It also recommends that Zainab's killer should be given the punishment since the grisly episode has already received widespread attention across the country.

Calls for the public hanging of rapists have emerged in public platforms since Zainab's incident but rights groups have constantly lobbied against such a move.

Zainab's rape and murder had prompted widespread protests not just in Kasur but across the country, with mobs going violent against the police and lawmakers in some areas. Following that, the Punjab government had set up a special joint investigation team to find the murderer.

Zainab vigil
Members of Civil Society light candles and earthen lamps to condemn the rape and murder of Zainab Ansari in Kasur, during a candlelight vigil in Islamabad, Pakistan on 11 January 2018 REUTERS/FaisalMahmood