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India Changes Law To Allow Death Penalty In Child Rape Cases

22 April 2018

In case of rape of a girl aged under 16 years, the ordinance prescribes that the minimum punishment awarded should be increased from 10 years to 20 years, which is extendable to life imprisonment.

The minimum sentence will be doubled, from 10 years to 20, according to the Times of India.The amendment also seeks to introduce longer prison sentences for raping women, increasing the minimum from seven years to 10 years up to life in prison. There will amendments in Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences to make for the highest punishment to offenders. Death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years, officials said quoting the ordinance.

The punishment for the gang-rape of a girl under 16 years of age will invariably be imprisonment for rest of life of the convict. The Cabinet today approved the ordinance, amid a nation-wide outrage over cases of sexual assault and murder of minors in Kathua in Jammu region and Surat in Gujarat, besides the rape of a girl in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao.

The Cabinet's approval of the ordinance prompted Delhi Commission for Women Chairwoman Swati Maliwal to say she would end a hunger strike on Sunday that she started nine days ago to protest child rapists not receiving the death penalty, India.com reported.

A number of serious crimes in India carry the death penalty, but raping a child was not among them until now.

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Mr Modi had been accused of sympathising with men accused of raping an eight-year-old Muslim girl in a Hindu-dominated area of Jammu and Kashmir after his Bharatiya Janata Party appeared to offer them support prompting national outcry and accusations not enough was being done to protect women.

The attack sent out the sort of shockwaves that shook the country after the equally horrific gang rape of a Delhi student on a bus in 2012, which made headlines around the world.

Investigation of all cases of rape has to be finished within two months, and trial in all rape cases must be completed within two months, officials said.

A 2016 investigation by The Washington Post of almost 400 fast-track rape courts found that those set up to speed the prosecution of rape cases do not always have the impact that advocates hope for. No anticipatory bail will be granted for those who raped a girl under 16 years.

Activists reiterated that death penalty would not bring down crimes against women and children. "The government must ensure implementation of existing measures.including enforcement of the POCSO Act", Jayshree Bajoria, author of Human Rights Watch report documenting barriers to justice for sexual assault survivors in India, told PTI.

India Changes Law To Allow Death Penalty In Child Rape Cases