JAIPUR: The Rajasthan assembly passed an amendment bill on Friday that makes rape or gang-rape of a girl up to 12 years of age an offence punishable with death. The state is now the country’s second, after Madhya Pradesh, where rape or gang-rape of minor girls is a capital offence.
Those convicted of raping girls under 12 years of age or below will be given death sentence, proposed a bill that was unanimously passed in the Rajasthan Assembly on Friday. Once the bill becomes a law, Rajasthan will be the second such state, after Madhya Pradesh, where the rapists will get a death penalty.The maximum punishment for the rape of a minor has also been extended from seven years to 14 years and life imprisonment. If a minor is gang-raped and the child dies, the convict will have to spend 20 years in jail.The Rajasthan government took the step in view of the rising crimes against women and children. “We want to prevent rape against minors, and if it still happens, the accused should get the strictest punishment,” said Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria.
According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) 2016 report, the cases of crimes against children have shown a steady rise in Rajasthan. The state recorded 4,034 such cases in 2016, which is 3.8 per cent of the crimes against children (98,344) registered across the country. It stands fourth in the crime against women category.
The survivors, from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, were in New Delhi this week to press for their demand.Pointing out the inadequacies of existing legislations, such as the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA), 1956, and Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, they stated that the new bill will be the first to address the issue of victim rehabilitation.
Unlike ITPA and IPC section 370, which recognise only trafficking for sexual exploitation, the proposed bill looks at trafficking for forced labour, beggary, organ transplant among others.Madhya Pradesh-based Surekha (33) (name changed), who was trafficked and sexually exploited by a chain of agents before being sold to her ‘husband’ near the Rajasthan border for Rs 2 lakh, said despite being ‘rescued’ her condition had not improved much.
“My parents would not have me back in the house due to stigma, while the police and courts are hostile towards the victims. With the new bill, there is hope that the situation would change for the next generation,” she said.The 33-year-old added often, in such cases, charges of rape are pressed against the her final buyer, but the many agents who form part of the trafficking chain escape, a wrong that would be remedied by the proposed comprehensive law.