Death Penalty For Rape Of Girls Aged 12 & Below.

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I began my day with mixed emotions of anger & sadness after reading about how the iconic child actor Daisy Irani was raped & abused as a six year old girl. This happened 60 years ago. Sadly, child rape is rampantly happening even today. Is it too much to expect a safe, secure, happy childhood for our future generations??

Around Diwali two years ago in 2016, in a shocking incident at a private boarding school in Hivarkhed in Buldhana district of Maharashtra, 450 km from Mumbai, it was discovered that twelve minor tribal girls aged 12 years, had been raped by their teachers & headmaster. The shameful incident came to light after three of those twelve girls were found to be pregnant.

Less than a week ago, a five year old girl in Thane, Maharashtra was lured with an ice-cream by a 40 year old man who took her to an isolated spot and brutally raped her. She was found cying inconsolably by a passerby who took her to the police station.

Those that I have mentioned above, are two amongst the countless cases of helpless little girls robbed of their innocence, their sense of security ripped apart, in the most brutal manner. Often, it gets even worse when the crime goes unnoticed & unreported and the child continues to be tormented without the perpetrator getting caught. And this has been happening forever!

India with a population of 1.21 billion people is home to 19% of the world's children. It is the second most populated country in the world where children represent 39% of its total population.

Sadly, India has amongst the world's largest number of Child Sexual Abuse cases but there is general reluctance to talk about the topic so the real number of cases could be much higher. Every 155th minute, a child less than 16 years is raped, every 13th hour a child under 10 is raped, and one in every 10 children has been sexually abused at any point of time. Studies propose that over 7,200 children, including infants, are raped every year and it is believed that countless cases go unreported. It is estimated by the government that 40% of India's children are susceptible to threats of abuse like being homeless, trafficking, drug abuse, forced labor and crime. 

As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report 2016, in sexual offences against children, Maharashtra registered the highest number of cases, 3,078. Madhya Pradesh registered the second highest number of cases — 1,687 — under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act in 2015.

Recently the Madhya Pradesh assembly has unanimously passed a bill that will see rapists of girls 12 years or below being hanged until death. The move comes after the Shivraj Singh Chouhan Cabinet approved the bill called Dand Vidhi (Madhya Pradesh Sanshodhan) Vidheyak, 2017. This bill will be sent to the Centre and will need the assent of the President to become a law. The bill proposes death penalty or a minimum term of 14-year rigorous imprisonment or life imprisonment till death for raping girls aged 12 or less. The minimum punishment increases to 20 years rigorous imprisonment for gang rape of girls aged 12 or less.

Following Madhya Pradesh, Haryana too passed a bill advocating death sentence for those convicted of raping girls up to 12 years of age. Haryana will be third state after Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to have such a law.

Haryana assembly passed the new bill, Criminal Law (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2018 to amend the Indian Penal Code 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012. The amendment has made the offence of rape liable to punishment of life-long imprisonment and even death in extreme cases.

More than 16 months after the rape and murder of a minor girl in the remote village of Kopardi in Ahmednagar sent shockwaves across Maharashtra, the death sentence was pronounced for the three accused. This rare sentence came as a major relief for the hundreds of thousands of people who were following up with this case for the sheer brutality of it. Fortunately, timely justice was served in this particular case only because it had been fast tracked owing to the potentially explosive nature of the crime in creating acute social divisions. But what about those minor girls in whose cases these brutalities go unnoticed or the rapists get away because of loopholes in the law? Can we continue to let these ravagers roam scot free in society, hunting for their next prey?

Rape is one the worst forms of violence, to add to it, the rape of a child who is physically and mentally extremely vulnerable & weak is as henious a crime as it can get, and as a civil society, is it not our responsibility and duty to ensure that the perpetrator does not get away?

I seek your support for my petition and join me in asking Honourable Maharashtra CM Shri Devendra Fadnavis to implement in Maharashtra state a bill proposing the death penalty or a minimum term of 14-year rigorous imprisonment or life imprisonment till death for raping girls aged 12 or less, and in ensuring a happy and secure childhood for the girl child!

 



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