NEW DELHI, India – The new law against rape in India will help to control ever increasing trend of rapes as the law defines consent as an “unequivocal voluntary agreement” when the person by words, gestures or non-verbal communication communicates willingness. The fact that the victim did not physically resist rape shall not be regarded as consenting to the sexual activity, reports Dispatch News Desk (DND).
Besides police officers, hospital staff and remand home officials, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance has widened this safeguard to presume absence of consent for the cases where the alleged rapist was a relative, guardian, teacher, a person in a position of trust or authority or who had “economic or social dominance”. Moreover this provision would cover sexual assault by superiors at the work place, domestic helps, and backward classes in a rural area.
It may be mentioned that the Indian president approved an ordinance strengthening sexual-assault laws on February 3, 2013 and death penalty has been fixed as the maximum punishment in cases of rape. Ordinance will go to Parliament for approval when parliament will be in session, but it has to be enforced and come into effect immediately. Next session of Parliament will open on Feb. 21. Under current law, rapists can face sentences ranging from seven years to life imprisonment.
The ordinance incorporates most of the suggestions of a three-member panel led by former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma, set up to propose ways to strengthen criminal laws in cases of sexual assault. The government added the death penalty, although the Verma panel didn’t recommend it.