National women’s organisations have welcomed the Justice Verma Committee report stating that it has made “the definition of rape gender specific and other forms of rape between same sex persons have been provided for separately”.
“Also, the longstanding demand of women’s organisations that has been accepted by the Committee is that marital rape be recognised as rape. It has expanded the categories of aggravated forms of rape and included rape by members of the armed and paramilitary forces, which is a welcome move,” noted Beena Jain of the All India Women’s Conference.
However, the women’s organisations expressed disappointment with certain aspects of the report. They said it had left out recommendations for fast-tracking rape cases in a legally time-bound procedure and had provided no review of the dismal rehabilitation schemes of rape survivors.
Speaking at a Press conference, All India Democratic Women’s Association’s Sudha Sundararaman said: “We are also disappointed with the non-inclusion as aggravated sexual assault with enhanced punishment for caste/class dimensions when perpetrators utilise social, economic and political power. These aspects have a bearing on the welfare of rape survivors from the Dalit, tribal and poorer sections of women which need to be addressed.”
The women’s organisations will now petition the Prime Minister’s Office to take a serious note of the recommendations made by the Verma Committee and bring about simultaneous changes in law and governance so that the objective with which the committee was set up may be fulfilled.
“The comprehensive amendments to the Law on Sexual Assault and Harassment, the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, and the Bill to address Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace should be presented and passed in the forthcoming session of Parliament. Other changes dealing with police functioning and preventive measures should be acted upon within one month, and effective, time bound monitoring of these steps should be undertaken,” added Ms. Sundararaman.
The women’s groups have also demanded that the forthcoming Union Budget provide resources for effective implementation of laws and adequate funds be set aside to ensure long-term and short-term rehabilitation measures for rape survivors and acid attack victims.
The organisations which participated in the meeting included the All India Women’s Conference, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, Joint Women’s Programme, Guild of Service, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch and National Federation of Indian Women.