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India: Death sentences for Mumbai rapists

The three are first to be convicted under India’s tough new anti-rape law, aimed at curbing violence against women

An Indian court sentenced three men Friday to hang for the gang rape of a 23-year-old photojournalist in Mumbai last year. The men are the first to be tried and convicted under a recently revised law that carries the death penalty for those convicted of multiple sexual assaults.

The three were among five men sentenced to life last month for raping a 19-year-old telephone operator in separate incident in the city.

India's tough new legislation, passed in March, is seen as a crucial step in combating India's pandemic of violence against women

The anti-rape law is aimed at repeat sexual offenders and puts in place a host of new provisions and punishments, including criminalizing stalking, voyeurism and acid attacks.

It stipulates the death penalty for repeat offenders and those whose victims are left in a vegetative state.

The law also sets forth criminal penalties for police and hospital authorities who fail to register a complaint or treat a victim.

The stimulus for the law was the widely publicized fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in December.

The savagery of the assault, in which the student was gang-raped for an hour and tortured with an iron rod, sparked unprecedented protests across India and stirred national debate about gender violence.  

In response to the public outrage, the government established a panel to explore ways to strengthen laws to protect women. The new legislation incorporates some of the panel’s suggestions.

With wire services

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