People take part in a protest against the recent rape cases, assembling on April 15, 2018 in New Delhi, India.
PHOTO: Hindustan Times/Hindustan Times/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
People take part in a protest against the recent rape cases, assembling on April 15, 2018 in New Delhi, India.
Now playing
02:53
Protests break out over rapes in India
Now playing
01:25
Kerala struggling to deal with massive floods
Indian volunteers and rescue personnel evacuate local residents in a boat in a residential area at Kozhikode, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 16, 2018. - The death toll from floods in India's tourist hotspot of Kerala increased to 77 on August 16, as torrential rainfall threatened new areas, officials told AFP. (Photo by - / AFP)-/AFP/Getty Images
PHOTO: AFP/Getty Images
Indian volunteers and rescue personnel evacuate local residents in a boat in a residential area at Kozhikode, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 16, 2018. - The death toll from floods in India's tourist hotspot of Kerala increased to 77 on August 16, as torrential rainfall threatened new areas, officials told AFP. (Photo by - / AFP)-/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:56
Kerala monsoon rains turn deadly
TOPSHOT - An Indian woman sits inside her houses immersed in flood waters in Ernakulam district of Kochi, in the Indian state of Kerala on August 10, 2018. - Flash floods have claimed at least 27 lives in the southern Indian state of Kerala, officials said on August 10, prompting the US to advise its citizens to stay away from the tourist hotspot. (Photo by - / AFP)        (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: -/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - An Indian woman sits inside her houses immersed in flood waters in Ernakulam district of Kochi, in the Indian state of Kerala on August 10, 2018. - Flash floods have claimed at least 27 lives in the southern Indian state of Kerala, officials said on August 10, prompting the US to advise its citizens to stay away from the tourist hotspot. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:00
Heavy flooding in India kills dozens
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:37
Report: Rampant abuse in Indian home for girls
Now playing
01:27
11-year-old girl raped by 17 men this year, police say
PHOTO: Justin Solomon
Now playing
01:18
Watch this 10-year-old girl surf in India
PHOTO: Millennium Audios
Now playing
01:01
Watch: Music video inspired by deadly virus
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:03
The women and girls of Delhi are fighting back (2018)
orig natpak anthony bourdain here and there parts unknown punjab _00000728.jpg
orig natpak anthony bourdain here and there parts unknown punjab _00000728.jpg
Now playing
01:39
Here's what shocked Bourdain in Punjab
Crowds gather to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra on January 3, 2018. 
India is to restrict the number of daily visitors to the Taj Mahal in an effort to preserve the iconic 17th-century monument to love, its biggest tourist draw. Millions of mostly Indian tourists visit the Taj Mahal every year and their numbers are increasing steadily as domestic travel becomes more accessible.
 / AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET        (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra on January 3, 2018. India is to restrict the number of daily visitors to the Taj Mahal in an effort to preserve the iconic 17th-century monument to love, its biggest tourist draw. Millions of mostly Indian tourists visit the Taj Mahal every year and their numbers are increasing steadily as domestic travel becomes more accessible. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:33
Pollution is damaging iconic Taj Mahal
PHOTO: CNNMoney/Getty Images
Now playing
00:55
Walmart is buying Indian online retailer Flipkart
PHOTO: Boby Mishra
Now playing
01:23
Violent dust storms sweep Northern India
Now playing
01:51
Teen allegedly burned alive after gang rape
i on india changing homeland orig nws_00005707.jpg
i on india changing homeland orig nws_00005707.jpg
Now playing
01:02
India: A nation of many extremes
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:34
Why can't these Indian nationals leave Saudi Arabia?
(CNN) —  

India’s Cabinet has passed an executive order to make the rape of a girl under 12 punishable by the death penalty as national outrage grows over sexual violence in the country.

The order – known as an ordinance – was approved Saturday at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development.

The change in the law will only become permanent once it is approved by India’s Parliament, which is currently in recess. It goes into effect once it’s signed by the President, considered a formality, but it will lapse after six months if Parliament doesn’t ratify it.

The executive order also increased the minimum punishment for female rape from seven years in prison to 10 years, extendable up to life imprisonment, and introduced measures to speed up court proceedings in rape cases. Forensic rape kits will be provided to police stations and hospitals, and specialist labs will be set up exclusively to handle rape cases, the ministry said.

Modi has come under increasing pressure to act following a string of particularly brutal rape cases that have shocked the nation. Less than three months ago, his government argued against a call in the Supreme Court to introduce the death penalty for child rape.

Large protests were held last weekend in response to the alleged gang rape and killing of an 8-year-old Muslim girl in Jammu and Kashmir state. Police have arrested eight suspects in connection with her death, all of whom are Hindu. Investigators allege the men plotted the girl’s abduction as a means of scaring predominately Muslim nomads into leaving the region.

As public outrage grew, two senior members of Modi’s party who had participated in the protests in support of the accused were forced to resign amid accusations of political interference and religious discrimination.

That case, along with rape accusations against a ruling party lawmaker in the state of Uttar Pradesh, has put pressure on Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP. The lawmaker, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, denies the allegations that involve a teenage girl.

Women join a protest this week in New Delhi in support of victims following high-profile rape cases.
PHOTO: SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Women join a protest this week in New Delhi in support of victims following high-profile rape cases.

The head of the Delhi Commission for Women, Swati Maliwal, began a hunger strike on April 13 to push for stricter laws for rape in India, including the death penalty.

She welcomed news of the new ordinance via Twitter but said her protest was not over.

“I congratulate people of this country for this victory,” she said. “Very few protests have achieved so much in such less time. But until something concrete happens, I will not give up. Until a system is there which ensures safety for the last girl, I won’t give up.”

Following outcry over the 2012 gang rape and death of 23-year-old physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh, the central government passed legislative reforms, commonly known as the Nirbhaya Act. The act saw increased penalties for sexual violence, including extending the length of prison sentences and introducing the death penalty in certain cases.

However, incidents of sexual violence continue to shock the country. Around 100 sexual assaults are reported to police in India every day, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. There were nearly 39,000 alleged attacks in 2016, an increase of 12% over the previous year.

Public outrage has threatened to engulf Modi, who will seek re-election next year, as the demonstrations transform into a conduit for growing anger over the country’s treatment of women and minority groups.

Despite reforms, sexual assault survivors face systemic barriers in India

After several days in which he failed to address the issue publicly, Modi finally broke his silence during an April 13 speech in Delhi, promising justice for “our daughters.” However, critics accused him of doing too little, too late.

Law students demonstrate Wednesday in Srinagar over the rape and killing of an 8-year-old girl.
PHOTO: TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Law students demonstrate Wednesday in Srinagar over the rape and killing of an 8-year-old girl.

The furor also threatened to overshadow Modi’s visit this week to Britain. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Downing Street and the UK Parliament waving placards reading “go home Modi” and “hang the rapists” as he prepared to meet with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Addressing selected members of the Indian diaspora in London, Modi called on society to do more while urging against politicizing the issue.

“A rape is a rape. How can we tolerate this torture with our daughters? You are always questioning your daughters, why don’t you ask the same questions to your sons? I believe this is the evil of not just the individual but also of the society,” he said.

CNN’s Steve George contributed to this report.