After rape of eight-month-old baby, head of Delhi Commission on Women calls for push for capital punishment for child rape

 After rape of eight-month-old baby, head of Delhi Commission on Women calls for push for capital punishment for child rape

Candlelight rally held in Kolkata, against the gang rape occurred in New Delhi on 16th December, 2012 to a 23 year female. Photo: Biswarup Ganguly.

On Wednesday, in the wake of the rape of an eight-month-old baby girl in India’s capital, New Delhi, Swati Maliwal, head of the Delhi Commission for Women, called for a 30-day protest action to persuade the Government of India to establish the death penalty for offenders who rape children.

The Indian press reported on Monday that the baby was in critical condition after being raped on Sunday. According to the police and a statement by the baby’s father to the agency Asian News International, when the baby’s mother went to her job as a domestic helper on Sunday afternoon, she left the baby in the care of her sister-in-law at her home in Subhash Nagar in western New Delhi. When she returned, the baby was crying and was covered in blood. The sister-in-law said that the baby’s 28-year-old cousin, who lives in the same building, had been playing with the baby. The baby underwent an operation at the hospital, and a medical examination has confirmed that she was raped. Press Trust of India later said that sources reported her condition had stabilised. A police spokesman said that the cousin was arrested under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act and Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code.

On Monday, after visiting the hospital where the baby was being treated, Ms Maliwal tweeted: “How can Delhi sleep today when 8 month baby has been brutally raped in Capital? Have we become so insensitive or we have simply accepted this as our fate?”, and addressed Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding “stricter laws and more police resources” to combat rape. She said the baby’s internal injuries were “horrific” and “inhuman” and had required three hours on the operating table to repair, and that she could “still hear her screams and cries”. Others responded with tweets calling the rape “monstrous” and “disgusting and disturbing”.

Since the fatal gang rape of a student on a bus in Delhi in 2012, there have been widespread protests in India against rape culture and calls for heavier penalties for rape. In response the government made the law stricter and introduced dedicated ‘fast-track’ courts, but the maximum penalty for rape in the country is life imprisonment. There have been other press reports of child rape in the country in recent years, including the kidnapping and rape of a three-month-old in Hyderabad in 2015 and the kidnapping and rape of an eleven-month-old in Delhi in 2016. National Crime Records Bureau statistics for 2016 list 19,765 child rapes, an 82 per cent increase over the previous year.

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