Published: Sun, April 22, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

India seeks death penalty for rape of girls under 12

India seeks death penalty for rape of girls under 12

India's cabinet Saturday approved the ordinance amending laws on sexual violence to allow for capital punishment for those convicted of raping children below the age of 12, the official said.

"I welcome the provision of death penalty for rape of any girl below 12 years and increasing punishment from 10 to 20 years if a girl below 16 years is violated".

While death penalty was mandated for rapists of children under 12, the ordinance will raise that age cap to 16.

In addition, the cabinet reportedly has also cleared harsher punishments for those who rape girls under the age of 16.

The ordinance came in the wake of a nation-wide outrage over rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, and other instances in different parts of the country including rape of a nine-year-old girl in Surat.

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Protests around the country were also prompted by the arrest of a lawmaker from the BJP last week in connection with the rape of a teenager in Uttar Pradesh, a populous northern state that is governed by the party. An eight-year-old girl had been raped and murdered in Kathua in Jammu in January.

On Tuesday, Indian Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi called rape and child sexual abuse in India a "national emergency", with 100,000 such cases pending in courts. In his tweet, Rahul Gandhi had said that only in 2016, 19,675 cases of rape were reported to be against minor girls.

"Considering the urgency of the situation, we have chose to bring an ordinance to implement the changes in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012", a senior official in the ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.

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.

She said that "the conviction rate in rape cases in India was only 28 per cent, implying that 72 out of 100 suspects are going unpunished". And police will be forced to finish rape investigations in two months.

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At present, there is no provision for death penalty for the guilty.

"Once such a registry comes into being, I am concerned that it might lead to people not reporting rapes or sexual offences, because majority are by people known to the victims".

The maximum sentence is life imprisonment.

The ordinance will now have to be replaced with an amendment bill in Parliament within the next six months.

Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi said while the party welcomes any severe measure to ensure that the accused in such crimes are brought to book, and justice is meted out to the victims.

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