In the wake of a wave of protests over the recent spike in countrywide rape incidents, President Abdul Hamid has promulgated an ordinance increasing the maximum punishment in rape cases to death penalty from life imprisonment.
Women protest against gender-based violence outside the parliament in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 9 October.
The approval came on Monday at the weekly meeting of the cabinet headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka, said cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam.
Details of the amendment were not immediately available, but Islam said the Cabinet agreed to a proposal that trials in rape cases be completed in a speedy manner.
An investigation by an autonomous state body, the National Human Rights Commission, found the woman in the recent video had been raped repeatedly and terrorised with weapons by one of the group over the past year.
An investigation by Bangladesh's National Human Rights Commission found that the woman in the viral video, who was attacked in the southeastern district of Noakhalim, had been raped repeatedly over time and terrorised.
Reports indicate that police recorded almost 5,500 rape cases past year, but conviction rates are very low. While the minister of state for women and children's affairs sees the move as a step towards women's empowerment, feminist groups and protesters say that the amendment is nothing but a ploy to quell the ongoing movement that demands early and judicious dispensation of justice for rape survivors, not the death penalty for rape.
Days before the Noakhali video went viral, anger had already been brewing after several members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League - the student wing of the governing party - were arrested and charged with gang raping a woman in the northern town of Sylhet.
The demonstrators, mainly women students and activists who took to the streets in Dhaka and other cities last week, protested against the rising number of incidents of rape and sexual assaults reported in the media. "I want death penalty for the rapists so that the rest of the inhuman creeps can learn what will happen to them if they ever dare to do it".
In addition, many rapes go unreported because women fear being stigmatised.
Protesters are also calling for faster trials and a change in methods of judgment in rape cases.
Hasina said she would bring those responsible to justice.
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