An Indian state has approved the death penalty for paedophiles who rape girls younger than 12.
A bill titled ‘the punishment method’ unanimously passed the Madhya Pradesh assembly on Monday.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan declared: ‘People who rape 12-year-old girls are not human, they are demons. They do not have the right to live.’
He added: ‘There are people in society who can be set right only by severe punishments. [The bill] will deal with them. We will also raise awareness in society against such crimes.’
The bill also raises the minimum sentence for paedophile rapists to 14 years and for gang rapists to 20 years.
It must now be approved by the president and federal government before it can be signed into law.
Campaigners warned the death penalty may induce child rapists to also murder their victims to eliminate evidence – as they can be found guilty by a child’s testimony.
Maydha Pradesh, in central India, has only the fifth largest population of the Indian states but the highest number of rape reports.
In 2016 it had 4,900 of almost 39,000 reported rapes in India. Almost half of the victims were minors.
Capital punishment is a legal penalty in India but has only been carried out five times since 1995. It is done by hanging by the neck until death.
In November 2012, India voted against a UN General Assembly draft resolution to end capital punishment around the world.