A year ago, Delhi-like protests were seen in Mumbai after two young men were murdered by a group of youths for trying to protect their women friends from sexual harassment on the streets. Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes’s death sparked outrage in the city. A year later, Keenan’s father has written an open letter to the Prime Minister requesting stronger laws to ensure the safety of women.
“Based on the common sentiments and taking into consideration the practicality of the existing framework, I would like to put forward certain demands and recommendations to address the growing menace of all forms of sexual harassment in the country,” Valerian Santos has written in the letter written on Monday.
He demanded amendment to the existing laws, enactment of new laws, and judicial and police reforms. “Section 354 and Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code to be cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable across the country,” is his first demand. He also suggested that the Central government issue directives to the National Commission for Women and the State Commissions for Women to draft legislation for women’s safety. He demanded specialised fast track courts attached to every sessions court to ensure speedy and time-bound disposal of sexual harassment cases.
He said the Centre must ensure that complaints and offences of this nature were handled with due sensitivity and in a manner appropriately laid down by the law, so that a strong message goes out to the society in general and sets a strong precedent to prevent such cases in the future.
He also recommended that women should be empowered by making them aware of their rights and the provisions of the existing legislations.