The Indian government is considering introducing the death penalty for child rapists.
It comes after an appalling week of news about the abuse of children in the country, with a seven-year-old boy murdered and mutilated in Delhi and an eight-year-old girl raped for three days at a temple in Kathua before being killed.
India already has the death penalty for 12 offences – including rape if it leads to the victim’s death or to them being left in a vegetative state – but not for rape alone.
Under current law, the maximum penalty for the rape of a child is life imprisonment and a fine.
But according to ANI, the central government has submitted a letter to the country’s supreme court to amend the law and to allow for the execution of paedophiles who rape children aged 12 and under.
In the horrifying case in Kathua, Asifa Bano, eight, was gang-raped for three days at an Indian temple. Her mutilated body was found a week after she was kidnapped by a gang trying to drive away the Muslim nomadic herders to which she belonged in India’s Jammu and Kashmir.
Earlier this week, police released shocking details of the attack and how she was sedated and kept without food in a small village.
Police say she was held in the temple for three days while three men gang-raped her repeatedly before she was strangled and hit twice with a heavy rock.
One of the men involved ordered another attacker to delay her murder so he could rape her one last time, police say.
Eight men, including four police and a Hindu temple custodian, have been arrested over the attack and appeared in court on Monday for the first hearing in a case that has sparked nationwide outrage.
In another case in a Delhi slum, Purshotam Kumar, seven, was kidnapped before having his eyes gouged out, his tongue cut off and his body slashed.
He was found dead in a garbage dump, with Sandeep Singh, 21, admitting to the rape and murder of the boy.
The child’s mother, Puja Devi, demanded justice for her son and the alarming number of other children raped and murdered in India.
‘When will our children be safe? I want him hanged. He’s taken my boy. I don’t want him to do this to another boy, to any other child,’ she cried.
‘There is not point him staying alive, he must be hanged. Children will only be safe when the police catch men like him. The police need to do their job.’
In Chhattisgarh on Wednesday, an 11-year-old was allegedly raped and bludgeoned to death at a wedding before her attacker reportedly rejoined the celebrations covered in her blood.
According to statistics released by the Indian government in December, there were 106,958 recorded crimes against children in 2016.
Of those, 36,022 were of a sexual nature.
The figures meant that in 2016, a child in India was sexually abused every 15 minutes.