India approves death penalty for child rapists

The Indian government has made moves toward introducing the death penalty for child rape.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet approved the order on Saturday (local time) and sent it to President Ram Nath Kovind for his approval.

The law will need to be approved by Parliament within six months to become official.

The change to the country's penal code would apply to those convicted of raping a child under the age of 12. Minimum prison sentences for raping girls under 16 and women have also been raised. No laws have been changed in regards to male victims.

The move is believed to have been triggered by nationwide protests over the death of Asifa Bano, an eight-year-old Muslim girl who was brutally raped and murdered in what is believed to be a conflict over land in the Jammu and Kashmir state. 

Six Hindu men were arrested for the crime, including four police officers.

A politician from India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was also recently accused of the rape of a 16-year-old girl.

India is notorious for violent crimes against women, which have been steadily rising over the last five years.

In 2012, a 23-year-old woman was gang-raped on a bus in New Delhi, and later died from her injuries. The four men convicted of her rape and murder were all sentenced to death but their executions have not yet been carried out.

Just three people have been executed in India in the last decade.