The Cabinet on Monday approved raising the maximum sentence in rape cases from life imprisonment to death penalty after several incidents of recent sexual assaults in Bangladesh sparked public outrage on the streets and social media. Ministerial spokesperson Khandkar Anwarul Islam said that President Abdul Hamid can issue ordinances amending the Women and Child Harassment Act as Parliament is not in session.
The first maximum sentence was life imprisonment.
The details of this amendment have not been revealed immediately but Islam said that the Cabinet was agreeing on the proposal that the rape case be heard soon. Under the current law, the maximum punishment in rape cases is life imprisonment. However, in cases where the victim dies, the death penalty is allowed.
President can issue ordinance
Law Minister Anisul Haque said that the President can issue the ordinance on Tuesday. In recent weeks, violent sexual assaults were followed by massive demonstrations in the capital Dhaka and elsewhere. According to the Ain-O-Salish Center, an organization fighting for women’s rights, there were 889 incidents of rape between January and August in the country and at least 41 victims died.
Recently there was public anger
In recent times, public outrage erupted when a video surfaced on Facebook and in which some people in a southeastern district have been seen stripping and assaulting a woman. According to the Human Rights Commission of the country, this woman was repeatedly raped and terrorized in a single year. In another incident, a woman was dragged from a car and taken to a college dormitory and gang raped.