Published: Mon, April 23, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

India govt approves death sentence for child rapists

India govt approves death sentence for child rapists

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.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been under fire for his response to the crisis sparked by the arrest earlier this month of eight suspects in the January rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The document made no mention of the rape of boys or men. The victims were children in 40 percent of those cases.

For the rape of a woman, the offender will receive a minimum of 10 years of imprisonment.

The cabinet 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.

Given this reality, experts point to the need for more debate before any amendment of the criminal law is carried out to award death penalty for cases of child rape.

Many protesters expressed particular anger at India's ruling Hindu nationalist party for initially siding with the accused in the Kashmir case.

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Still, some death penalty opponents are critical of the new order.

The new decree requires trials involving child victims to be completed in two months after an arrest. But incidents of reported rape have risen 60 per cent since then, to 38,947 in 2016, according to National Crime Records Bureau data. Death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years.

The committee, which had former chief justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court Justice Leila Seth and former solicitor general of India Gopal Subramaniam as its two other members, in its report, in February 2013, however, felt that "the deterrent effect of death penalty on serious crimes in actually a myth".

In 2014, under this Section 376E of the IPC, three men were sentenced to death in the Shakti Mills gang rape case in Mumbai.

"Proposing fast-track courts do not help when the number of judges remain the same or if the prosecutors are not capable of handling such cases", says Sidhva.

"Going by the nature of the injuries, they seem to be caused in the period ranging from one week to one day prior to the recovery of the body, suggesting that the girl might have been held captive, tortured and possibly raped", the doctor involved in the case was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying.

The NLU report interviewed 373 of the 385 prisoners in India on death row to conclude that the structural reality of death penalty in India shows that it is "disproportionately imposed on vulnerable persons along the axes of economic and social parameters".

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