Brinda bemoans lack of law to check cases of sexual assault and girl-child abuse

Justice eludes the victims of sexual assault and girl-child abuse due to lack of political will to bring about legislation to check such cases and the United Progressive Alliance government is not according priority to this issue.

This was stated by Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat at a seminar on “violence against women and the role of administration and media” here on Friday.

Ms. Karat was critical of the country's growth rate being linked with the profits of individual companies. Until women and girls felt secure, India's growth rate could not go up, she pointed out. According to data pertaining to crime against women in 2009, over 21,000 cases of rape were reported that year. Of this, 12 per cent of such cases were related to girls below the age of 15 and 17 per cent to girls aged between 15 and 18.

Thus 29 per cent of cases of sexual assault were those committed on minors.

Ms. Karat said the draft of law to check crime against women in workplaces in the light of the 1997 Supreme Court verdict in the Vishaka case was prepared, but not tabled in Parliament. The delay was on account of the Central government's move to insert a clause wherein if the Complaint Committee Against Sexual Harassment found a registered complaint to be false, then the woman would be penalised. This was an attempt to browbeat women. “The government's move has been opposed.”

Honour killings

On the rising trend of honour killings, Ms. Karat alleged that the Union government had failed to frame law that protected the victims' honour and dignity. Leaders were guided by compulsions of vote-bank politics and lacked the will to take on the dictates of “khap panchayats.” She criticised the trend of projecting girls and women as commodities in the media.

Vice-president of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) Subhashini Ali said crime against women had assumed dangerous proportions in Uttar Pradesh. The former MP deplored the tendency of politicians to use cases of sexual assault and violence against women as a tool for gaining points over their adversaries.

Ms. Ali stressed on a unified struggle to counter the challenge against the dignity and honour of women.

The seminar was organised by the AIDWA, the Students Federation of India and the Democratic Youths Federation of India.

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