By LE Desk

Lahore, March 22: Two men were sentenced to death on Saturday for gang-raping a woman on the side of a highway in Pakistan last year, an attack that triggered nationwide protests and calls for tougher laws.

The men, Abid Malhi and Shafqat Hussain, were convicted of gang rape, kidnapping, robbery and terrorism offences, according to a written order released by the judge in the eastern city of Lahore, CNN news reported.

The woman was raped at the side of a highway in the eastern province of Punjab after her car ran out of fuel while she was driving her two children in September.

Protesters took to the streets saying Pakistan needed to bring in legal reforms and do more to protect women and children after a series of high-profile cases.

Fewer than 3 per cent 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, created special courts in a bid to speed up prosecutions and established a national sex offender registry.

The two condemned men were also sentenced to life imprisonment, fined and had property confiscated, Rauf Wattoo, a public prosecutor involved in the case, told Reuters.

“The survivor had identified the convicts twice during the identification parade in jail and while recording her statement in front of the judge,” another prosecutor, Waqar Bhatti, said.

Rights campaigners have called for an end to a culture that they say regularly blames victims of sexual assault. After the rape in September, one senior police official publicly questioned why the woman had been driving alone at night with her children.

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