Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

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 an Indian Home Ministry statement.

It will also provide their photos, addresses and fingerprints, without compromising “any individual’s privacy.”

Story continues below advertisement

“The National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO) ... will assist in effectively tracking and investigating cases of sexual offences,” 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 teenaged 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 being 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.

Story continues below advertisement

PRIVACY CONCERNS

The urgency to establish a sex-offenders register gained momentum following countrywide 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 the age of 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.”

Jayshree Bajoria of Human Rights Watch had similar concerns, telling the Thomson Reuters Foundation that even a rumour could prove dangerous in a country where incidents of mob justice have spiked recently.

Story continues below advertisement

“For any real change, the government must do the hard work of actually implementing the laws and policies” that were put in place after the gang rape of a young woman in Delhi in 2012 on a moving bus, she said.

Ms. Bajoria urged authorities to focus on supporting and protecting victims of sexual assault to ensure they are able to report crimes and receive justice without facing stigma and harassment.

Many countries, such as the United States, Britain and South Africa, keep a record of people who have been convicted of sexual offences such as pedophilia and rape.

The United States, for example, has an online database which is open to the public. It provides information including the offender’s photograph and address, as well as details of the crime.

In other countries, such as Britain, the policy entails offenders registering with their local police station. Key people within the community such as doctors, youth leaders and landlords are informed, and police monitor the offender.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies