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Updated: May 2, 2013 01:42 IST

“Rape law changes welcome, yet an opportunity lost”

Aarti Dhar
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UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Rashida Manjoo, addressing the media in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: S. Subramanium
The Hindu UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Rashida Manjoo, addressing the media in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: S. Subramanium

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Again Women, Rashida Manjoo, on Wednesday regretted that the amendments made to the rape laws in India did not fully reflect the recommendations of the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, set up in the aftermath of the December 16 gang rape that led to the death of a young girl in the national capital.

Addressing reporters at the conclusion of her visit to India, Ms. Manjoo welcomed the Centre’s speedy response after the rape and the legislative reforms based on the Verma Committee recommendations but said it was “an opportunity lost. The Verma Committee was a golden moment to examine whether legislative measures in India were sufficient.” India had an amazing Constitution that granted equality to all but the challenge was to enforce the provisions.

Hoping that India would bring in further legislative measures to address issues such as marital rape, age of consent and rights of transgender people and vulnerable groups, Ms. Manjoo said it was “unfortunate that the opportunity to establish a substantive and specific equality and non-discrimination rights legislative framework for women, to address de facto inequality and discrimination, and to prevent all forms of violence against women, was lost.’’

“Death penalty not a deterrent”

She said the speedy developments and also the adoption of a law and order approach to sexual wrongs, now included the death penalty for certain crimes against women. “This development foreclosed the opportunity to establish a holistic and remedial framework. The new approach fails to address the structural and root causes and consequences of violence against women, she added.

The Special Rapporteur said there was no proof that death penalty was a deterrent. “One needs to look at what purpose it [death penalty] would serve. The need is transformation of society and empowerment of women.’’

Despite the numerous positive developments, the unfortunate reality was that the rights of many women in India continued to be violated with impunity. Ms. Manjoo said she had received numerous submissions to suggest this, and also testimonies to say that mediation and compensation measures were often used as redress mechanisms to address cases of violence against women, thus “eroding accountability imperatives, and further fostering norms of impunity.”

Sexual violence and harassment in India were widespread, and perpetuated in public spaces, in the family and in the workplace.

Armed Forces Act

On the issue of conflict-related sexual violence, Ms. Manjoo said it was crucial to acknowledge that these violations occurred at the hands of both state and non-state actors.

The Special Rapporteur’s report would be officially submitted to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in June 2014.

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It is very unfortunate that an outsider has opined that an “opportunity is lost” to bring amendment to criminal law to ensure safety of women in India. The question is “do the Parliament (politicians) need “an opportunity” to safeguard rights and dignity of women through an amendment to the law”? Every year, Government secures statistics on increasing violence against women, is this the only job of the Government or cannot the Government see and take measures amend the Criminal law? In India, Women is treated as strength, power, dignity of family and society. Is this only in books or in some speeches by some Political person? Why cannot people think for a while what they are doing, and I hope they will get an answer which would bring some changes to ensure rights and dignity of women in India.

from:  Shobha.S
Posted on: May 2, 2013 at 10:11 IST

As usual trying to discipline society without checking whether the
Government has done its own job and also capable of taking correct
steps to achieve the psychology required to attain protection.That
cannot be achieved unless Government understands that they cannot
inflate the Female workforce without having sufficient employment
potential for the entire masses because in all societies the male
should be given esteem(law of the jungle prevails).The total number of
female constabulary should be preponderantly more to cover the
increase in female workforce,the number of constabulary is now
absmally very low.Protection has to be given to the children and
juvenile delinquency homes have to increase in number and should have
better standards.

from:  Prof.Paul.V.John
Posted on: May 2, 2013 at 05:42 IST
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