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Indian Parliament Raises Punishment For Rape After December Assault

Police officers escort gang-rape suspects to court in Datia, in central Madhya Pradesh state, on March 18.
India's parliament has passed tougher new legislation against sex crimes following nationwide outrage over the fatal gang rape of a young woman in December in New Delhi.

The new law was passed by the upper house of parliament on March 21, two days after the lower house approved it.

While the maximum sentence for rape remains life imprisonment, rapes that lead to death or leave the victim in a vegetative state can now be punished by death.

The law also makes stalking, voyeurism, and sexual harassment crimes.

It punishes police and hospital authorities with imprisonment of up to two years if they fail to register a complaint or treat a victim.

Women's rights activists say the law is not strong enough, citing among its weaknesses the failure to recognize marital rape as an offense.

Based on reporting by dpa, AP, and Reuters