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Bangladesh Cabinet approves death penalty for rape cases after protests

Dhaka: Bangladesh's Cabinet on Monday approved an amendment to introduce the death penalty for rape cases after a series of recent sexual assaults sparked nationwide protests.

Bangladesh was rocked over the weekend by an unprecedented level of protest after footage of a brutal gang assault on a woman went viral on social media. Demonstrators carried signs reading "Hang the rapists" and "No mercy to rapists".

The Cabinet unanimously endorsed the amended law... prescribing capital punishment for rape instead of (existing) lifetime rigorous imprisonment, Cabinet secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam told a news briefing emerging from the meeting of the council of ministers.

He added that during the Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasised on completing rape trials within the stipulated timeframe as well.

Law minister Anisul Huq said that the Women and Children Repression Prevention (Amendment) Bill was expected to receive President Abdul Hamid's approval by tomorrow to be promulgated as an ordinance since parliament was not in session at the moment. "Surely it (law) will be a deterrent to such notorious crimes," Huq said.

The changes to the law were demanded by thousands of demonstrators across the Muslim-majority nation calling for more stringent punishments for the perpetrators of sexual assaults.

Police arrested eight suspects after the video of the assault went viral more than a month after the attack occurred at the victim's home in Noakhali.

In a separate case, another woman was allegedly gang-raped last week in a hostel in the northern district of Sylhet, leading to the arrest of several members of the student wing of the ruling party.

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