The country’s new penal code applies to those convicted of raping a child under the age of 12.
There have been nationwide protests in recent weeks over the gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl.
The government has come under fire for not doing enough to prevent sexual-assault cases, many involving children.
A number of serious crimes in India carry the death penalty, but raping a child was not among them until now.
Nearly 19,000 cases were registered in India in 2016 – more than 50 each day.
Barbara Greene, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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