An ordinance was passed by the center today to introduce capital punishment for child rapists, a move that is seen as an effort to signal the government’s commitment to fighting sexual crimes against young girls. The change was cleared at a meeting of the Union Cabinet convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi within hours of his return from a five-day foreign tour.
Another ordinance completely distinctive that will let the government confiscate the property of economic offenders who flee the country.
Union minister Maneka Gandhi, for women and child development, had suggested the idea of changing the law last week amid national grief and anger over the gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua. At Saturday’s meeting, the proposal was formally moved by the Home Ministry.
When experts tasked to overhaul rape laws had looked into this demand following the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in the national capital, they had noted that capital punishment for rape “may not have a prevention effect”.
“The death penalty is not the answer to everything,” the PM Modi’s government law officer told the Supreme Court this January.
Even after the BJP acted against these leaders, the anger over the continuing crimes has shown no abatement with demands that the government does more to protect children. There were also calls for abroad to nudge the government and PM Modi to pay more attention to the condition of women.
Maneka Gandhi has told states “to improve the response of the police to sexual offenses by setting up special teams, sensitize officers and punish those found to be obstructing the probe.”
Provisions stipulate a minimum jail term of seven years for a minor’s rape. The maximum punishment is a jail term for the remainder of the convict’s life.
It is not clear how a harsher punishment would be deterrent when only 3 out of 10 men charged with raping minors are convicted. The remaining 70 percent people walk free. This meant that 5,700 people accused of raping minors were acquitted while only 2,241 were convicted in 2015.