The Indian parliament passed a sweeping new law today that will enact harsher punishments for those convicted of sexual crimes, including death for repeat rape offenders or rape attacks that lead to the victim’s death, Reuters India reports.
The Criminal Law Act 2013 criminalizes voyeurism and stalking, along with making human trafficking and sexual harassment specific offenses. While seen as an important step towards ending the violence against women, the law is criticized by activists who warn that much of its effectiveness would depend on enforcement.
It expands the definition of rape to include all forced sexual penetration and recognizes gang rape as a punishable offense. It also redefined sexual harassment to include unwelcome advances with sexual overtures and showing pornography without consent.
According to Fox News the law was rushed through Parliament after the December 16 gang rape that sparked nationwide protests demanding the government do more to protect women. It was approved by the parliament’s lower house on Tuesday and passed by the upper house two days later, but still needs the president’s signature before becoming official.
“It’s a good step in the right direction,”
a senior leader of India’s main opposition party, Venkaiah Naidu, told the Wall Street Journal.