Women’s rights groups of the capital have called upon political parties to push for the enactment of the Draft Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, into law.
The Union cabinet had on Thursday approved the draft of the bill on the recommendations of the empowered group of ministers.
These are the same groups who had raised their voices in protest after the December 16 gangrape, demanding justice for the victim and better legislation to curb violence against women.
“The approval of the Bill signals a step forward for women’s rights in India. We call upon all political parties who profess to stand up for women’s rights to show this in their deeds, and call upon all citizens to join us in asking Parliament to enact this bill into law,” activist Kavita Krishnan, who had emerged as one of the primary voices of protest after the December 16 incident, said.
“We urge all members of Parliament to uphold the spirit of the Justice Verma committee, to speak in a united voice, and pass the Bill in this session,” she said.
The bill had divided the Cabinet at its special meeting on Tuesday and was referred to an Empowered Group of Ministers to sort out differences on various aspects of the proposed law.
On Wednesday, the empowered group finalised the draft because of the government’s keenness to expedite the bill that will replace an ordinance promulgated on February 3.
“The ordinance, which had ignored almost all recommendations of the Justice Verma Commission report, was totally unacceptable. This Bill has recommended stringent punishment for crimes against women, including rape. It also defines acid attack, stalking and voyeurism as criminal offences, which is a welcome move. The age of consent, which has been 16 years under the Indian Penal Code since 1983, and has been retained at that,” Krishnan said.
According to the activist, another important inclusion is that hospitals will be bound by law to provide free, immediate treatment to victims of acid attack and sexual violence.