India Approves Death Penalty For Child Rapists

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The Indian government have announced they will impose the death penalty on people convicted of raping a child under the age of 12.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Cabinet have approved an ordinance which will allow the death sentence to be handed down to anyone found guilty of raping a child to combat a rise in crimes involving sexual violence.

The ordinance has been sent to the president for approval, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Parliamentary approval is required within six months for the ordinance to become law but suspects can be prosecuted using the ordinance in the meantime.

Widespread outrage over the recent rape and killing of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu-Kashmir state has sparked the government’s decisive action against these abhorrent crimes.

Many protesters expressed anger at India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party for initially siding with the accused in the Jammu-Kashmir case. The victim was a Muslim and the accused are Hindus, reports the Guardian.

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The alleged rape of a girl by a ruling-party MP in the state of Uttar Pradesh – as well as several other rape cases involving young girls – have also been condemned by the public.

Nine suspects, including an MP from the ruling Bharatiya Janata party and four police officials, have been arrested in the two recent cases in the Jammu-Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh states. It is estimated there could be more.

These horrific cases speak to a wider, systematic problem with sexual violence against women in India.

Citing the data compiled by the NGO Child Rights and You, the Indo-Asian News Service reports sexual crimes against minors in India have soared, increasing five-fold from 18,967 in 2006 to 106,958 in 2016.

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Violent crime against women has been increasing in India despite the government’s efforts to combat the rise with tough laws enacted in 2013.

In 2012, the fatal gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi led to mass protests to demand stricter rape laws.

The laws doubled prison terms for rapists to 20 years and also criminalised voyeurism, stalking and trafficking of women. Indian MPs voted to lower the age at which a person can be tried as an adult for serious crimes from 18 to 16.

The lawyer Abha Singh told the Guardian the new proposal would hopefully deter men from committing the heinous crimes against women.

But she also urged the government to set a timeframe for bringing suspects to justice so as not to elongate the difficult process for victims and deter them from coming forward about the crimes committed against them.

Indian courts are notorious for long delays, with more than 30 million cases pending, it is said.

Singh added that the conviction rate in rape cases in India was just 28 per cent, meaning 72 out of 100 perpetrators were going unpunished.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 (12-2:30 and 7-9:30).

They also offer a victim support line on 0808 168 9111.

If you have a story to tell, contact UNILAD via [email protected]