The Centre on Saturday passed an Ordinance making sexual offences against women, in particular girls below 16 years, punishable with terms varying from 20 years to life-term and even death in case of rape of girls below 12 years.
The Indian government has moved to impose the death penalty for people convicted of raping a child under the age of 12 to combat a rise in crimes involving sexual violence. The rape of a minor in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district had also outraged India. An eight-year-old girl had been raped and murdered in Kathua in Jammu in January.
"[In the recent child rape cases], there was a complete breakdown of law and order".
The Cabinet's approval of the ordinance prompted Delhi Commission for Women Chairwoman Swati Maliwal to say she would end a hunger strike on Sunday that she started nine days ago to protest child rapists not receiving the death penalty, India.com reported. "Across the world such registries have failed to act as a deterrent", said Bharti Ali of HAQ Centre for Child Rights.
"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".
"We have come to know that the ordinance is suggesting very serious punishment, including death penalty, to those convicted for raping girls below 12 years of age". The actual problem is not that there is no death penalty for child rape.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had also talked tough on the issue and said that the government would make the law that would award capital punishment to those involved in the rape of a minor. The case also highlights India's rising religious and racial divide: Asifa was Muslim while her alleged assailants are Hindu.
These incidents brought back the painful case of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student named Jyoti Singh, who was gang-raped by six men on a bus in Delhi in 2012.
According to Law Ministry sources, provisions have been introduced under the Ordinance for setting up new fast-track courts and appoint public prosecutors to ensure speedy trial in rape cases. Eight suspects are now on trial for various charges in the case, including three police officers.
Dedicated manpower will be provided for investigation of rape cases in a time bound manner. "These measures will form part of a new mission mode project to be launched within three months", an official said.
India will join a club of eight countries with a sexual offender database to monitor and track those convicted of such crimes, amidst growing criticism against it in the United States, where it is pursued aggressively.