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Death penalty ordinance meant to "cover up" BJP supporters of Kathua, Unnao rape perpetrators: International NGOs

By Our Representative
At least two top international non-profits, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Save the Children (StC), have asked Indian parliament not to adopt into law the recent ordinance which introduces capital punishment for those convicted of raping a girl under 12." "With this populist call, the government wants to cover up the fact that its supporters may have engaged in a hate crime", said Meenakshi Ganguly of the HRW. "Death Penalty is not the answer,” added StC's Bidisha Pillai.
If HRW is New York-based, StC has its headquarters in London.
In a statement, HRW said, "India should work towards abolishing the death penalty which is inherently cruel and irreversible, with little evidence that it serves as a deterrent", adding, "The government passed the ordinance on April 21 following widespread protests after attempts by some leaders and supporters of the ruling BJP to defend Hindu perpetrators of the abduction, ill-treatment, rape, and murder of an 8-year-old Muslim child in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K)."
Pointing out that in Uttar Pradesh, authorities not only failed to arrest a BJP legislator accused of raping a 17-year-old girl, but also beat her father to death in police custody, Ganguly said, “With this populist call for hangings, the government wants to cover up the fact that its supporters may have engaged in a hate crime.” In J&K, two BJP ministers were forced to resign after they "joined the Hindu Ekta Manch to protest the arrest of the accused".
Recalling that following the 2012 gang rape and death of Jyoti Singh Pandey, a medical student in Delhi, the Indian government enacted legal reforms, new categories of offenses regarding violence against women and girls, making punishment more stringent, including death penalty, were added, HRW said, despite this, things have not changed. "The number of rape cases reported in 2016 increased by 56 percent over 2012", it noted.
Regretting the recent ordinance does not cover rape on male child, HRW said, "In a November 2017 report, 'Everyone Blames Me', HRW found that survivors, particularly among marginalized communities, still find it difficult to register police complaints. They often suffer humiliation at police stations and hospitals, are still subjected to degrading tests by medical professionals, and feel intimidated and scared when the case reaches the courts."
"Instead of fixing these structural barriers, the Indian government has expanded the use of capital punishment for rape... The government’s ordinance comes despite the fact that both a high-level government committee and India’s Law Commission came out against the death penalty", HRW said, adding, "In India, according to the 2016 government data, out of 38,947 cases of rape reported by children and women, the accused was known to the victim in 94.6 percent of the cases."
Further reporting that in "630 cases, the accused was the victim’s father, brother, grandfather, or son; in 1,087 cases, the accused was a close family member; in 2,174 cases the accused was a relative; and in 10,520 cases, the accused was a neighbour", HRW said, "Rape is already underreported in India largely because of social stigma, victim-blaming, poor response by the criminal justice system, and lack of any national victim and witness protection law..."
In its statement, StC said, “Much more efforts are needed to ensure that existing laws are implemented properly and justice is meted out quickly. Also, all of us need to ensure that all forms of abuse and harassment against children are reported to the authorities, which is not happening in the vast majority of cases. Counselling and psycho-social support is required for the victims.”

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
All I can do is hang my head in shame for what the country has become. Women, young and old, have been raped in the past but they are covered by media more vigorously now. My shame is for those who support the rapists with specious arguments and my blood boils when I remember the lawyers who carried MY NATION'S FLAG to protest a heinous crime--how dare they? Of course the PM was too busy painting a rosy picture of the country abroad and telling the NRIs (most of whom are his fans) that India is shining

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