The new ordinance introduced by the government and passed by the Council of Ministers on Sunday provisions imposing jail term up to three years and a fine up to Rs 30,000 on people guilty of forcing reconciliation between rape victims and perpetrators.
The ordinance provisions six months to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 30,000 for those involved in ‘mediating’ to settle rape cases out of court. Articles 219 to 223 of the Code of Criminal Procedure do not provide any punishment for perpetrators of reconciliation in rape cases.
Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Shivamaya Tumbahangphe informed that the ordinance has been sent to the President’s Office for approval. The ordinance comes into force as a law after verification by the President’s Office.
According to the police headquarters, seven people are raped every day across the country while more than 80 percent of the rapes are committed by relatives and acquaintances.
According to police, the involvement of family members, relatives and acquaintances one of the main reasons for increasing rate of people trying to settle rape cases outside of court through reconciliation.
In the first four months of the current fiscal year, more than 800 incidents of rape have been recorded across the country and in most of them, a known person is involved in the crime, according to officials involved in the investigations.
The ordinance has also increased imprisonment against rapists. The current provision of life imprisonment for rape of a person below 10 years of age and above 70 years of age has been retained in the amendment.
Similarly, words like ‘rape of a girl under 10 to 14 years’ have been amended to ‘rape of a person’. If a person between the ages of 14 and 16 is raped, the prison term has been upped to 12 to 16 years instead of 12 to 14 years.
The provisions of 10 to 12 years imprisonment for raping a person between the ages of 16 to 18 and 7 to 10 years imprisonment for committing the crime against persons of 18 years or above have been upped by 2 years respectively.
Police personnel, court officials or any other public servants found guilty of this crime will be sent to six additional months in jail.
According to Law Minister Tumbahangphe, the ordinance was introduced after detailed discussions on ways to provide speedy justice to rape victims.
She said that some provisions of the law had to be amended after a significant number of rape incidents was found being mediated and settled outside the courts by some influential people, denying the victims and survivors their due justice.
The ordinance has also amended the Senior Citizens Act to provision imprisonment of senior citizens involved in rape. “No matter what is written in other acts, any senior citizen found guilty of committing rape will not be exempted from imprisonment,” the ordinance says.
The cabinet meeting has also amended some provisions of the Criminal Code-2074 BS, Senior Citizens Act-2063 BS and the National Code of Conduct 2074 BS and replaced the words ‘woman/child’ with ‘person’ when describing rape survivors/victims.