The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) too objected to the "selective and arbitrary approach" of the Government to the recommendations.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has denounced the ordinance which the Union Cabinet issued on Friday to curb sexual violence against women.

When Parliament was to convene for the budget session in three weeks, the promulgation of the ordinance ran counter to democratic norms, a statement issued by the Polit Bureau said on Saturday.

“The ordinance rejects the Verma Committee’s recommendations on issues like making rape a gender-specific crime…, increasing the punishment to public servants for dereliction of duty and increasing the punishment for acid attacks and… compensation for victims, and is highly selective about the other recommendations. The ordinance has thus done injustice to the Verma Committee’s report and appears to be a diversion from the serious issues… of state culpability [and] inclusion of armed forces in the ambit of the criminal law with an amendment suggested to it,” the statement said.

As for the death penalty, the category of the rarest of rare cases had already been part of the legal framework and would include cases of rape and murder, and this was reiterated by Justice Verma, the party said.

The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) has condemned the government’s “selective and arbitrary” approach to the Verma Committee’s recommendations.

“We strongly feel that the UPA-II should have adopted a holistic approach to the… report, rather than a pick-and-choose exercise, thus undermining the efforts of the committee at providing a multi-sectoral, comprehensive framework for tackling rape and sexual assault. The piecemeal and fragmented ordinance can only serve to sabotage the intention of providing recourse to victims of sexual violence,” AIDWA president Shyamali Gupta said in a statement.

She said the ordinance did not address amendments in respect of the culpability of the state and punishment to officers who trivialised their responsibility; a review of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act; and the issue of bringing Army personnel under the jurisdiction of criminal law. It also ignored sexual autonomy, violence embedded in marital rape, the concerns of those with alternative sexualities.

Furthermore, the Verma Committee recommended that rape and sexual assault be a gender-specific crime, with separate provisions for same sex sexual crimes. But the ordinance retained gender neutrality, which amounted to a negation of the reality that rape was a heinous offence being committed against women.

The National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) has also expressed similar views.

“UPA-II is running away from serious debates on the issue of sexual violence, framing a law to prevent it and the steps needed for its effective implementation…,” general secretary Annie Raja said in a statement.

“Welcoming the inclusion of graded sexual violence, the NFIW strongly opposes the provision of gender neutrality of rape. The long-pending demand of the women’s movement for the inclusion of the Forces under this law is also not considered by the Central government,” the statement added.

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