The article “Rethinking the law on sexual assault” (June 3) is timely, as the law on the subject is being rewritten. The ongoing effort to amend the law on sexual assault became possible only because of the compulsions imposed by the 172nd Law Commission Report 2000, which was the result of a Supreme Court direction. This clearly establishes the attitude of the powers that be in addressing the most important aspect of women and children's rights. The slow pace of work on the amendment is unfortunate. The drafting committee must take notice of all the issues raised by the author, particularly in defining ‘resistance' to rape. The drafters will also do well to ensure that the law is not misused.
Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer observed: “When a woman is ravished, what is inflicted is not mere physical injury but the deep sense of some deathless shame.” We are living in a country which is witness to innumerable incidents of sexual assault. The existing law on rape is narrow in scope. There is an inherent bias in the definition of rape and sexual assault. The issue of child sexual abuse poses the biggest challenge to those seeking to amend the law. Children are as vulnerable as women and they do not speak out due to shame and a sense of insecurity. But it is also true that some women misuse the law. The new amendment should make sexual assault a gender neutral crime.
Arjun R. Shankar,
It is time the laws on sexual assault were amended to meet international standards. However, the draft bill circulated contains many flaws. For instance, the bill is clear that only a man can commit sexual assault. Lawmakers need to wake up to the fact that even women can sexually assault other women and the draft needs to be modified accordingly.
Rape is more heinous than murder. Murder can perhaps be justified in certain conditions. But not rape. The amendment should make rape punishable by death.
Even if the accused offers to marry the victim, which is usually done to circumvent the law, courts should be prohibited from allowing it. What kind of life can a rapist provide to the victim?
T. Anand Raj,