Offences against women and children

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday said the State government would give detailed inputs to the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, constituted to recommend provisions to amend the country’s law punishing the offence of rape.

“We have received the communication from the committee and have to give our input by January 5. The Opposition will be asked to give their suggestions and we have already requested the Kerala State Women’s Commission for its recommendations,” Mr. Chandy said in his address at the inaugural function of a seminar on ‘Security of women for National Development’ here.

Under the existing law, the maximum punishment for rape is life imprisonment.

Promising the women population of the State that no leaf would remain unturned to bring to prevent and prosecute crime against women, the Chief Minister said a meeting had been fixed with the Chief Justice of Kerala on January 19 to discuss the State’s proposal for constituting special fast-track courts to try offences committed against women and children.

“For this, the state of our economy is not a concern,” he said.

The Chief Minister addressed the “quintessential” question as to why rape victims still do not come out in the open and seek the protection of the law.

“Many victims do not even disclose incident of rape. Why? It is because of a lack of sense of security among them. Our response is the Nirbhaya project to guarantee security for women and children,” Mr. Chandy said.

“Nirbhaya mainly focusses on a three-point agenda – prevention, prosecution, and protection. This comprehensive policy and action plan with multi-stakeholder convergence will also cover legal reforms and the creation of a corpus fund for rehabilitation and relief,” the Chief Minister said.

Expert panel

There is a five-member expert committee for Nirbhaya chaired by poet Sugathakumari and comprising former Director of Public Instruction Lida Jacob, bureaucrat Sarada Muraleedharan, danseuse Mallika Sarabhai and Sunitha Krishnan, director of Prajwala, an NGO.

The project would be jointly implemented by various government departments like social welfare, SC/ST, police, health, labour, and local self-government in coordination with NGOs. As part of the initiative, five rehabilitation centres would be set up at various places of the State which would provide facilities for education and employment to the victims.

“Crime against women and children should be countered with three steps – strong laws, prosecution and rehabilitation. These three measures can be realised only if society unifies and fights,” he said.

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