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India introducing tougher penalties to stop widow immolation

[JURIST] India's Ministry of Women and Child Development [official website] announced plans Tuesday to toughen existing laws prohibiting the archaic Hindu funeral custom of sati [Wikipedia backgrounder], in which widows are expected to self-immolate on their deceased husbands' funeral pyre, by holding entire communities criminally responsible and increasing the maximum punishment from the current seven years imprisonment to life. The ministry's proposals, which will be submitted to the cabinet Council of Ministers [official website] for approval, are intended to strengthen the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act of 1987 [text]. If approved by the cabinet, the proposals will be referred to the Parliament of India [official website] when it reconvenes in August.

The proposals, which will hold village councils responsible for its implementation, are intended to counter the pressures that annually contribute to a few highly-publicized deaths. Reuters has more.

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