The Amnesty International (AI) has suggested that the Indian laws against rape and other sexual crimes should highlight the gravity of such offences but punishments that violate human rights like death penalty or chemical castration should not be used against offenders. The international human rights organisation has sent its opinions to the Justice J.S. Verma Commission, set up by the government to make recommendations on amending laws to provide speedier justice and enhanced punishment in sexual offence cases.

It said legislations relating to violence against women must criminalise all forms of sexual and gender-based violence against all people and minimise the potential for re-traumatisation of the victim. The AI wanted the Commission to look into sexual crimes against men, boys and trans-genders.

The Commission should also broaden the scope of rape to include any non-consensual sexual conduct involving penetration, including within marriage, AI said. It also called for identifying sexual violence as a crime “against the physical and mental integrity of the victim, and not against modesty, morality or honour.”

It wanted the two-finger test of victims of sexual assault during medical examination should be banned.

Amnesty’s other suggestions to the Commission include: explicitly recognising rape by an official as torture, and removing immunity from prosecution for sexual and gender-based crimes, including for members of the police or the armed forces.

“Legal reform in India will not be effective unless laws are properly implemented,” it felt. The police standard operating procedures should not perpetuate gender stereotypes and should fully respect human rights, the organisation said.

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