The All-India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) has presented to Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily a comprehensive draft law that seeks to make private parties culpable for violation of fundamental rights in crimes and killings committed in the name of “honour.”

All kinds of harassment, and curbing of choice, association, and movement would come within the ambit of this law.

Apart from defining crimes in the name of “honour,” the draft makes eulogising or glorification of these offences and killings punishable. The onus of proof is on the accused. The law seeks to protect young couples who declare their intention to marry before a government officer, and also suggests measures to stop self-proclaimed panchayats and other community bodies from issuing diktats.

Led by Brinda Karat, MP, a delegation, which met the Minister on Tuesday, pointed out that the amendments proposed to the existing laws did not sufficiently address all crimes of violence perpetrated in the name of “honour,” and highlighted the need for a separate, stand-alone law. The proposed amendments made an entire community punishable for a crime committed by some, the delegation pointed out and suggested that the law penalise only those community members present at the spot where illegal action was taken.

Mr. Moily assured the AIDWA that he would take up the important issues it raised with the Group of Ministers formed to look at legislative changes to address “honour” killings, said general secretary Sudha Sundararaman.

A memorandum was handed over to the Minister, pointing out the extremely limited rights available to women who had separated or were divorced, and their misery and sufferings due to financial constraints.

The delegation emphasised that the Bill to make irretrievable breakdown of marriage a ground for divorce would act against the majority of women in the existing economic and social reality of unequal status.

Adequate financial safeguards must be mandated for women before this Bill was passed, said the delegation, which included AIDWA legal convener Kirti Singh, national assistant secretary Ashalata and member Asha Sharma .

It appealed for supportive legislation to provide financial security to women by bringing in a law on matrimonial property rights immediately.

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