New Delhi: India continues to live up to its notorious image of being unsafe for women with yet another barbaric gang-rape incident taking place in the eastern state Odisha, formerly known as Orissa.
According to reports, a 25-year-old tribal woman was gang-raped by six people on Sunday night in front of her husband who was tied by the attackers to a tree in Mayurbhanj district of the state.
The couple had gone to the district hospital to see her brother who had met with an accident.
On their way back, the woman was reportedly teased by two employees of the hospital. They were joined by four others as they reached a river bank. They beat her husband and tied him to a tree when he protested. After that they took turns to rape the hapless woman.
Police arrested all six accused after the couple lodged the first information report (FIR).
The six accused have been identified by the local police as Kundan Mukhi (33), Raghu Biswal (19), Gopi Mukhi (19), Balaram Mukhi (27), Sibaram Ghadei (20), and Chandan Mukhi (20).
Incidentally the Odisha gang-rape was reported to coincide with the decision to refer the December 16 gang-rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi to a fast-track court.
According to statistics, every 48 minutes a woman is raped somewhere in India. Low prosecution rates and lenient sentences have thus far failed to deter the criminals.
Government has already set up a committee under Justice (retired) J.S. Verma to review the relevant laws and suggest changes. Social groups are demanding death penalty for rapists.
Indian panel likely to recommend tougher rape law
A government commission tasked with looking at India's sex crime laws is expected to recommend tougher sentences as it reports its findings on Wednesday.
A three-member commission led by former chief justice Verma will hand over its recommendations to the government.
"The report will be submitted to the home ministry today and the committee members will give details of their recommendations to the media," said ministry spokesman Kuldeep Singh Dhatwalia.
Judge Verma received thousands of suggestions after he set January 5 as a deadline for comments from jurists, women's groups and other forums to revamp existing legislation to deal with sex offenders. The panel was formed in late December.
India's 153-year-old penal code stipulates rapists should serve a minimum of seven years in prison and a maximum of life, while gang-rape convicts face a minimum term of 10 years and life imprisonment.
Media reports say India's ruling Congress party has suggested the death penalty for rapists in exceptional cases, while "chemical castration" - using drugs to eliminate sex drive - has also been raised.
The government, which has announced new "fast-track" courts to speed up India's notoriously slow justice system and efforts to boost the number of women police officers, has declined to comment on the panel's work.