New Delhi: As the trial of five men for raping and murdering a medical student began at a special court in Delhi, her father said at a press conference, "I have not been able to sleep for three days."
The five men pleaded not guilty on Saturday to the charges against them. A sixth suspect, a juvenile, is being tried separately and faces a maximum sentence of three years in a reform facility. "I don't read newspapers or watch TV. I only think that all six people should be hanged," the student's father said. "She died, but awakened the nation," he said, referring to the public outrage that has provoked many changes including the setting up of fast-track courts in Delhi to handle cases of crimes against women.
On Friday, the government introduced changes to criminal laws through an ordinance that has been rejected by women's rights activists who describe it as "an eyewash."
The ordinance - which is effective immediately and must be cleared by Parliament within six weeks - deviates sharply from the recommendations of the Justice Verma commission, which was appointed by the government to review existing laws. The three-member panel of legal experts did not suggest the death penalty for rape, but the new ordinance allows it for extreme cases. The government also ignored the suggestion to recognise marital rape as a criminal offence, and allow the prosecution of members of the armed forces accused of sexual crimes in regular courts.