Unhappy with the ‘unsatisfactory’ intervention of the National Commission for Women (NCW) in the recent cases of violence against women, women’s groups have demanded strengthening of this panel to enable it to carry out its mandate. They have also called for a transparent process of appointments to the Commission.

The national women’s organizations and activists representing a large section of women in this country have expressed deep dismay over the increasing, heinous crimes being perpetrated against women, and demanded that the government should take urgent action to stem this trend.

“Legal, political, and social institutions must intervene and play a pro active role. Institutions like the NCW that have been set up to safeguard women’s interests must be strengthened and enabled to carry out its mandate,’’ a joint statement issued by the women’s groups said in New Delhi on Monday. It is disturbing that in recent incidents like the Guwahati episode of public stripping and molestation of a young girl by a mob, the intervention by these institutions has been unsatisfactory. The reasons must be examined, and urgently remedied, the statement said.

The organizations pointed out that the constitutional rights of young girls were being repeatedly violated, and crimes being justified by some self styled gate keepers of morality in the name of upholding "culture and tradition".

“To blame the victim of a crime instead of the criminal diverts attention from the culprit, and attempts to create sanction for the violence. This injustice being perpetrated against young girls has to be effectively countered by all those committed to a democratic, egalitarian society,’’ the statement said.

“We stress the need for a gender specific legislation to address sexual assault, and an effective legislation to address crimes being committed in the name of upholding ‘honour’. A transparent, non partisan and unbiased selection procedure for appointing the NCW Chairperson and its members must be introduced by Parliament immediately,’’ the women’s groups said while adding that a campaign would be undertaken to achieve these demands.

The signatories to the joint statement are: Guild of Service, All India Democratic Women’s Association, All India Women’s Conference, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, Joint Women’s Programme, National Federation of Indian Women, Young Women’s Christian Association, War Widows Association, Women in Positive Social Action, Independent Commission for Peoples Rights and Development, Jagori, Hunger Project, WPW, Centre for Advocacy and Research, Action India, Mahila Dakshita Samiti, Federation for Muslim Women, Delhi Mahila Kalyan Samiti and Centre for Social Research.

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