Speakers said cyber stalking and mobile phone abuse were on the rise. Ms. Sandhya said it would take a long time for a comprehensive Act to be enacted.

There should be more clarity in the definition of terms such as ‘public space’ and ‘dignity of women’ in the proposed Kerala Protection of Privacy and Dignity of Women Act, Inspector General of Police (IGP) B. Sandhya has said.

She was speaking on the provisions of the Bill at a discussion organised by Kerala Sthree Vedi at YMCA Hall here on Monday. Social activist K. Ajitha presided over the meeting.

K. Preetha, lawyer, said the term ‘protection’ in the title of the Bill was misleading. “ “We need prohibition and not protection,” she said.

Other speakers said the term projected women as ‘victims.’ A change in terminology would be desirable, Ms. Sandhya said.

J. Sandhya of the Kerala Human Rights Law Network said the factor which weakened most cases was witnesses turning hostile. “No matter how sensitive a judge you get or how earnest the prosecution is, if the witness changes his or her stance, the victim is rendered helpless,” she said.

The IGP said a ‘victim impact statement’ could eliminate this problem. Such a statement would convey directly to the Magistrate the victim’s distress and would thereby elicit a ruling that would be in favour of the victim, she said.

Speakers said cyber stalking and mobile phone abuse were on the rise. Ms. Sandhya said it would take a long time for a comprehensive Act to be enacted. Forums like this could but formulate a draft, she said. “With a central Act pertaining to sexual assault likely to be passed soon, the State could think of a legislation which could be more comprehensive,” she said.