India's Cabinet urges tough laws for rape

AP News
Posted: Feb 01, 2013 3:41 PM

NEW DELHI (AP) — India's Cabinet accepted most of the recommendations of a commission for toughening laws for crimes against women, including increasing the penalty for rape.

The panel was set up in response to the fatal gang rape in December of a young woman on a moving bus in New Delhi. The Cabinet recommended Friday that the president issue an ordinance to turn the proposals into law, Law Minister Ashwini Kumar said.

The commission recommended an increase in the penalty for rape to 20 years and suggested life terms for gang rape.

Kumar did not give details. However, the Press Trust of India news agency said the Cabinet went beyond the panel's recommendations by providing for death sentences in cases where a rape leads to death of the victim or leaves her in a "persistent vegetative state."

The Cabinet also recommended including crimes like stalking, cyber stalking and voyeurism and imposing stiff punishments for such crimes.

"We believe that this is a progressive piece of legislation and is consistent with felt sensitivities of the nation in the aftermath of an outrageous gang-rape in New Delhi," Kumar said.

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Police say the young woman and a male friend were attacked after boarding the bus on Dec. 16. The attackers beat the man and raped the woman, inflicting massive internal injuries with a metal bar, police said. The victims were dumped on the roadside, and the woman died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.

The brutal attack set off nationwide protests, sparking a debate about the treatment of women and highlighting the inability of law enforcement agencies to protect them.