Mediators in rape cases will also face jail term, as per a new ordinanceAmid growing demands for harsher laws for rapists, the ordinance, which the Cabinet has approved, increases sentences for rapists.
A girl or a woman gets raped. Then the village elders try to mediate between the victim’s and rapist’s families, often against the will of the former. Such cases are common across the country.
But now, according to a new ordinance the Cabinet approved on Sunday, the mediators too will face jail terms.
“Those involved in mediating the incident through political power instead of allowing due legal process will now have to face punishment,” said a minister on condition of anonymity.
The punishment ranges from six months to three years of jail term and a fine of Rs 30,000. Even those inciting mediation and putting pressure for out of court settlement for rape cases will have to face criminal charges.
It is worse for a mediator holding public office or a people’s representative with their jail term increased by six more months if they are found guilty.
The new provision, according to the minister, was brought after many incidents of rape were found to have been mediated by the local traditional authorities including panchayats across the country.
The ordinance will also amend a number of laws including the Criminal Code-2017 to make the existing rape-related laws harsher at a time when there has been demands of capital punishment for rapists.
“Today’s Cabinet meeting has decided to make the existing provisions of rape-related laws more stringent through an ordinance to amend some acts related to sexual violence,” said Law Minister Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe.
The draft of the ordinance to amend sexual violence related provisions in three different laws—Senior Citizens Act 2006, Muluki Criminal Code 2017 and Muluki Criminal Procedure Act 2017— has been sent to the President’s office for approval,
According to Tumbahangphe, with the new ordinance in place, the punishment for the rapists determined by the Muluki Criminal Act 2017 will be increased.
If the victim is between 14 and 16 years old, the jail term has been increased to 12-16 years from the existing 12-14 years. If the victim is between 16 and 18 years old, the rapist can get 10-14 years jail term instead of 10-12 years. Similarly, if the victim is above 18 years, the perpetrator will be sentenced to 10-12 years in jail instead of the previous provision of 7-10 years.
There are no changes in the sentences for those raping a child below the age of 14. As per the existing provisions, raping a child between 10 to 14 years will get 14-16 years of jail sentence while raping a child under 10 years will get 16-20 years jail term.
The ordinance also refuses to allow commuting the sentence of senior citizens who commit rape, according to Tumbahangphe.
Clause 12 of the Senior Citizens Act 2006 allows senior citizens to sentence of imprisonment commuted by 25 percent to 75 percent depending on their age groups. With the new ordinance in place this clause will be amended.
According to Minister Tumbahangphe the clause “woman or girl child” in Clause 221 of the Criminal Code 2017 has been replaced by “person” as both the male and female can be a victim of rape.