Indian president approves death penalty in some rape cases

Photograph shows Indian President Pranab Mukherjee during his address to the Indian nation on the eve of the country's 64th Republic Day, in New Delhi on January 25, 2013. —AFP Photo

NEW DELHI: India’s president on Sunday approved harsher punishments for rapists, including the death penalty, after a brutal gang-rape in New Delhi sparked national outrage and triggered demands for tougher laws.

President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to the new rape law two days after cabinet ministers recommended changes to improve safety for women.

“The Indian president has given his assent to the ordinance on crime against women. It comes into effect immediately but it will also be tabled before the parliament,” a senior officer in the president’s office told AFP.

A government-appointed panel and the cabinet had recommended tougher laws after the death of a 23-year-old woman who was savagely raped and attacked in a bus on December 16 and died nearly two weeks later.

Under the changes, the minimum sentence for gang-rape, rape of a minor, rape by policemen or a person in authority will be doubled to 20 years from 10 and can be extended to life without parole.

In the existing law, a rapist faces a term of seven to 10 years.

The cabinet has also created a new set of offences such as voyeurism and stalking that will be included in the new law.

But women rights activists have slammed the ordinance saying it lacks teeth to fight sexual crimes against women and lashed out at the government for passing the law without holding a debate or discussion.

Five men are being tried in a special fast-track court in New Delhi on charges of murder, gang-rape and kidnapping in connection with the death of the student, who died from her injuries in a Singapore hospital where she had been sent for further treatment.

A sixth suspect faces trial in a juvenile court.

The physiotherapy student was assaulted on a bus she had boarded with a male companion as they returned home from watching a film in an upmarket shopping mall.

India says it only imposes the death penalty in the “rarest of rare cases”.

Three months ago, it hanged the lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the country’s first execution in eight years.

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usman hashmi

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9 thoughts on “Indian president approves death penalty in some rape cases”

  1. Hi!
    (About your question on your profile: I suppose if you can make the question, it means you are capable of reasoning! And hurray for empathy-reasoning!)
    Well, for all the relief this piece of news might give some people, the news is terrible: more of patriarchal violence. They should be making sure we don’t bring up men in the idea that women are objects for their perusal, which includes they can destroy the object if they like. This “eye for an eye” policy is ill-focused and against all the world human intelligence can create when considering means need to be consistent with ends, and acknowledging that patriarchal versions of Reason are not all human minds can offer us. We could actually be less violent and unfair societies, on this planet!

  2. We should be changing how men are brought up – teaching them that rape is absolutely unacceptable. But having the legal backing is always helpful too. I don’t feel the need to defend the “rights” of rapists. If they get put to death, so be it. Most countries with harsh outcomes like that don’t have as high numbers of rape.

    1. I agree with you on the point of instructing the boys in our lives so that they grow to be men who respect women, but I don’t think it’s practical at all to assume that that approach will work in every circumstance. For example, we’ve been teaching children for decades now that smoking is unhealthy, and yet many of them still make the choice to do so. I know that you can’t possibly compare rape and smoking, but I think the premise is still the same — good parenting can only go so far; there are still, unfortunately, some bad seeds out there. I’m not a fan of the death penalty, but I am very happy that India is upping their minimum sentencing requirements and I have no problem of violent rapists receiving a very harsh penalty. Women deserve better.

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