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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Dec 2014

Women activists say ordinance on rape a joke, threaten protest rallies

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 03, 2013
First Published: 00:54 IST(3/2/2013) | Last Updated: 01:37 IST(3/2/2013)

Women's rights groups on Saturday urged President Pranab Mukherjee not to sign the ordinance amending laws dealing with crimes against women.

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They claimed that the ordinance was promulgated completely bypassing the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee report and described it as a "joke".

The Union Cabinet on Friday had promulgated an ordinance providing for tough punishment, including death sentence, if a rape victim dies or is left in a vegetative state. It was claimed that an ordinance has been brought in to fast-track amendments to laws dealing with crimes against women.

It has, however, allegedly that it had not taken into consideration the report of the Justice Verma Committee, which was formed in the wake of the December 16 gang rape incident, to review existing laws and suggest amendments to effectively deal with cases of sexual violence.

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Rights lawyer Madhu Mehra, human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover and activist Kavita Krishnan have expressed their reservations over the ordinance and informed that protests were being planned to make sure that the Justice Verma panel recommendations were implemented.

A joint forum of various women's organisations claimed that they were planning protests to pressure the government.

Krishnan told Hindustan Times that she, along with other activists, under the banner of 'Bekhauf Azadi' (freedom without fear) will protest in front of Parliament on the first day of the budget session on February 21.

"We will gather at Jantar Mantar on Monday. We will discuss and chalk out the next course of action at Gandhi Peace Foundation the same day. And on the first day of the budget session, we will protest in a big way in front of Parliament," Krishnan said.

According to her, the ordinance has ignored recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee report, which was a step towards changing the way sexual harassment is looked at.

"The government has stealthily passed this ordinance without sharing it with the people and without debating and discussing it. All the recommendations than can actually strike at the heart of those who break the law with impunity have been dropped. This is a joke," the activist said.

Mehra expressed shock over introduction of a gender-neutral perpetrator for sexual assault, suggesting that both women and men could potentially be charged for the offence. "We are in a worse position now. This is a perversion of equality. Even marital rape should have been included, which is not the case," Mehra said.


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