Indian President approves ordinance on death penalty to child rapists

Candle light vigil to protest against the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua near

Candle light vigil to protest against the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua near

BJP leaders in Jammu and Kashmir have mounted a communally charged agitation in defence of the Kathua rape accused.

The Union Cabinet today approved an ordinance to allow Courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children up to 12 years of age.

The introduction of a death penalty for those accused of raping a child under 12 years could have a negative effect on reporting, as families fear ostracisation and legal outcome for family members.

The president's approval is seen as a formality.

The cabinet also recommended mandatory completion of rape investigations within two months and advised that trials should also be completed in two months.

"Not only is the enhancement of punishment to include death penalty futile, but it will also have disastrous consequences for children". One of the family members called death penalty "too easy a punishment" as compared to their suffering. Compensation, however, is rarely awarded by the Special Courts, and is often made conditional on testimony and conviction, thereby defeating the goal of interim compensation.

Given this, the already existing pressure on children to turn hostile is bound to increase, Shah said, speaking at a panel discussion in the capital.

And every time such horrifying rapes and murders make the news, the people at large have been riled up in anger, ultimately calling for the death of the culprit.

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India previously introduced tougher laws in 2013 after the brutal New Delhi gang-rape.

At the protests across the country in the last two weeks, most posters alluded toward seeking justice for "India's daughters". "This will lead to the crime being suppressed and the victim being left completely helpless".

Yesterday, police in Madhya Pradesh arrested a man over the rape and murder of a four-month-old girl.

His daughter was found dead in a forest in Kathua district in January, a week after she went missing while grazing horses. The country desperately needs to improve its prosecution and conviction rate for rape and child sexual abuse cases. There have been other instances in the recent past where child offences were reported in the state and there have been a steep increase in the sexual offences against children.

The postmortem revealed the girl had been tortured, raped, strangled and smothered.

It may be noted that child rape cases in 2016 were recorded under section 376 of the IPC and section 4 and 6 of the POCSO Act.

What can laws really achieve when a family in Delhi was ready to settle a rape case for Rs 20 lakh, and child trafficking is rampant in remote areas which hardly find coverage by the national media? Child rights' activists have conducted extensive research and their expertise highlights how expecting the death penalty to reduce rapes is based on a number of misconceptions. Placing reliance on the death penalty will only divert attention from other issues plaguing the criminal justice system like poor investigation, prevention of crime and victim protection, Shah J said.

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