India launches first sex offenders register amid wave of assaults

India’s rape epidemic has shown no sign of dying down despite growing indignation, with more than 100 cases reported daily in India in 2016. (Reuters)
Updated 21 September 2018
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India launches first sex offenders register amid wave of assaults

  • The database will be accessible only to law enforcement agencies and not to the public
  • India was named the most dangerous in the world for women by experts in a survey

NEW DELHI: India has launched its first national register of sex offenders in a bid to stem crimes against women as the country reels from a series of high-profile rape cases.
The database will be accessible only to law enforcement agencies and not to the public, with 440,000 names registered, including those convicted of rape, gang rape, child sex crimes and sexual harassment, according to a home ministry statement.
It will also provide their photos, addresses and fingerprints, without compromising “any individual’s privacy.”
“The National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO) ... will assist in effectively tracking and investigating cases of sexual offenses,” the ministry said in the statement late Thursday.
The register comes as a spate of sexual assault cases have rocked the country, which was named the most dangerous in the world for women by experts in a survey published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in June.
Earlier this week, police arrested the principal and four staff members of a boarding school in northern India over the rape of a teenage student.
Police said they detained four male students for the rape, which left the girl pregnant. The school staff are accused of destroying evidence and covering up the crime.
In southern Kerala state, protests and calls grew this week for the arrest of a bishop accused of repeatedly raping a nun over a period of two years.
In August, police in northern Uttar Pradesh state rescued 20 girls and three boys from a home where they were sold for sex.
That raid came just weeks after police rescued nearly 30 girls who were sexually assaulted and tortured at a shelter in Bihar state.
The urgency to establish a sex offenders register gained momentum following nationwide outcry over the rape and murder of a Muslim girl in a Hindu-dominated area of Jammu and Kashmir state earlier this year.
The accused, all Hindus, are currently on trial.
The case prompted the government to approve the death penalty for the rape of girls under 12, and also increase the prison term for the rape of older girls and women.
Despite various measures, India’s rape epidemic has shown no sign of dying down. More than 100 cases were reported daily in India in 2016, the latest government data shows.
An op-ed piece in the Hindustan Times newspaper on Friday called the new sex offenders register “timely,” but worried the government could overreach and misuse data, and warned it “may tarnish a person’s life forever if he is reformed.”
Many countries, such as the US, Britain and South Africa keep a record of people who have been convicted of sexual offenses such as pedophilia and rape.


Strasbourg gunman Cherif Chekatt shot dead by police

Updated 43 min 49 sec ago
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Strasbourg gunman Cherif Chekatt shot dead by police

  • Chekatt was killed after firing on police officers, who returned fire
  • Reporters near the scene heard three to four gunshots after a huge police operation

LONDON: A gunman on the run since he killed three people at Strasbourg’s popular Christmas market has been shot dead by police.

More than 700 French security forces had been hunting for 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt since the bloodshed on Tuesday night.

Cherif Chekatt was killed in the Neudorf/Meinau area of the city after a police operation was launched around 2100 hrs (2000 GMT) on Thursday about 2 kilometers from where he launched his attack on Tuesday.

Chekatt was killed after firing on police officers, who returned fire, a source said.

Reporters near the scene heard three to four gunshots after a huge police operation with armed forces from the BRI and RAID units. A police helicopter had been circling overhead.

The death toll from Tuesday’s attack rose to three as police on Thursday combed the city in the east of France for a second day and manned checkpoints on the German border.

Police issued a wanted poster in multiple languages for Chekatt, who was the main suspect in the attack and who had been on a watchlist as a potential security threat.

Authorities say the 29-year-old was known to have developed radical religious views while in jail.

Earlier in the day armed and masked police swooped on Strasbourg neighborhoods with elite RAID officers fanning out across three locations in late afternoon, including the area where Chekatt was last seen.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said Chekatt’s parents and two brothers were being held in custody.

Two of his sisters in Paris were also questioned on Thursday and one of their homes was searched, a judicial source said.