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Mixed response to India's sex offenders’ registry

India becomes the ninth country in the world to have such a database

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New Delhi: The first-of-its-kind National Sex Offenders’ Registry, giving details of some 440,000 people convicted for various sexual offences, has received mixed response from activists across India.

Maintained by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the database launched on Thursday would include names of offenders convicted under charges of rape, gang rape, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and eve teasing (harassment).

“To reduce the crime rate and safeguard the civil rights of women, the government should deprive the convict of constitutional right of voting, applying for government jobs, being a member of any political party and travelling abroad”
-Aruna Jain, Activist
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It includes names, addresses, photographes and fingerprint details of convicts.

“The database is only for those convicted for sexual offences 2005 onwards. What about people convicted before 2005? Clearly, the record is incomplete. It should at least contain details of persons convicted for sexual crimes in the last 30 years,” says social activist Minali Dubey.

A Home Ministry statement said the database would not compromise any individual’s privacy.

Can it be misused?

“It is good the government released the database to the tune of 440,000 people convicted for sexual assaults, rapes, molestation, etc. No doubt, this may be very useful for law enforcing agencies in criminial justice system to regress sexuals crimes. But care should be taken that it should not be misused, as it may violate fundamental rights of the convicted person as guaranteed by the constitution,” civil rights activist Sanjay Patil said.

Interestingly, the proposal to set up the Registry was mooted by Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government after the infamous 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case.

“India has become the ninth country in the world to have such a database, accessible only to law enforcement agencies for the purpose of investigation and monitoring. But this is not enough. The convicted person needs to be branded so that identification by sight is possible,” says political commentator and activist Vivek Saksena.

Many feel the government should do more than just launching the database of sexual offenders.

“It is a welcome step but to reduce the crime rate and safeguard the civil rights of women, the government should deprive the convict of constitutional right of voting, applying for government jobs, being a member of any political party and travelling abroad,” activist Aruna Jain said.

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