India's upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha [official website], approved a bill [text, PDF] on Thursday that imposes tough penalties on perpetrators of sex crimes. The bill, which was approved by the lower house [JURIST report] earlier this week, increases the punishment for crimes such as rape, stalking and voyeurism. It imposes a jail term for up to seven years for stalking and voyeurism and allows for the death penalty in rape cases in which the victim dies or goes into a coma [WSJ report]. Also contained in the bill are a provision that requires hospitals to provide treatment to rape victims and a provision that imposes a 10-year jail term on anyone who damages a woman's body by throwing acid on it. The bill now goes to President Pranab Mukherjee [official website], who is expected to sign it into law.
There has been a growing outcry for harsher penalties and reform in technical aspects India's law since the rape and subsequent death [BBC reports] of a medical student in December. Last month Mukherjee signed the proposed changes that the Lok Sabha passed. India created a committee in January that recommended the legal reforms in its report [JURIST report]. In December Indian authorities charged six suspects [JURIST report] with murder after the death of the gang rape victim. Also in December Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [official profile] called for peace [JURIST report] after a protest over sexual violence resulted in a clash between protesters and police.