India’s government has approved the death penalty for people convicted of raping girls under 12 years old
The government approved an ordinance to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to introduce the death penalty for the pedophiles.
The order was approved by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi who held an emergency meeting in response to nationwide outrage in the wake of a series of cases.
It will require the approval of Parliament within six months to become law. However in the meantime, suspects can still be prosecuted under the order.
In cases of the rape of girls under the age of 16, the minimum punishment has been raised from 10 to 20 years imprisonment.
There were 40,000 rapes reported in India in 2016. In 40 percent of the cases the victims were children.
Sputnik news reports: According to The Economic Times, stringent punishment for rape of girls under 12 years will amount to minimum 20 years of imprisonment, life imprisonment or death penalty. In case of gang rape of a girl below 12 years, the punishment will be life sentence or death penalty.
Minimum prison terms have been also extended for rape of women and girls under 16 years old — from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years and from 10 years to 20 years respectively.
The ordinance was adopted after a resonant case involving the abduction and rape of a girl aged 8 in Kathua in January. A total of eight people are being accused, including two police officers. According to investigators, they kidnapped the girl from a nomadic Muslim tribe, pumping her with strong drugs. Before the victim was killed, she was kept in one of the Hindu temples of the city.