India: Rape panel calls for major changes

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NEW DELHI — The judicial panel set up in the wake of national protests following the gang rape of a young woman on a bus in the Indian capital submitted its report today, castigating politicians, police and the army for failing to protect women and children, and calling for far-reaching changes in the way the country is governed.

The three-member panel was established to assuage national outrage over the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student last month, but did not bow to public pressure to propose the death penalty for rapists or lower the age at which young offenders can be tried.

Instead, in a 200-page report, the panel slammed decades of apathy and criminal behavior in the way the country was governed, recommending that marital rape be criminalized and that India’s outdated rape laws be overhauled so that sexual assault short of penetration would be subject to much greater penalties.

The committee also recommended that the law be changed to criminalize sexual assault of homosexuals.

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