Caritas India, the social wing of the Catholics Bishops’ Conference of India, in a consultation on “Crime against Women and Children” has welcomed the stand taken by the Justice Verma Committee against death penalty. Its Executive Director Fr. Frederick D’Souza said: “Death penalty is only elimination of the offender and not the crime.”

He, however, suggested stringent punishment which should not exclude scope for personal change and transformation.

“It is the collective responsibility of the society/State to have adequate systems and policies in place to deter crime and protect life and dignity of every human person,” he added.

Caritas India’s assistant executive director Fr. Paul Moonjely said: “For a civilised society, it is essential to think of civilised means in treating criminals. Criminals are made and criminality is perpetrated in society for various reasons. If people are dangerous they should be confined and refined through appropriate measures and legal enforcements.’’

Stating that violence against women and children, especially girls, is partly the result of gender relations that assumes boys/men to be superior to women/girls, the Caritas India Team leader for Gender programme Ms. Shimray said: “Given the sub-ordinate status of women/girls, much of the gender violence is considered normal and the enjoys social sanction.”

Also participating in the consultation were groups working on the issue of social rights including All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and the Joint Women’s Programme and other social activists.

Caritas India also noted that it was gravely concerned with India’s lack of gender sensitivity and the growing trend of violence against women and children even as fact track courts are being set-up along with dedicated `women in distress’ helpline.