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HindustanTimes Wed,27 Aug 2014

Govt honour for December 16 victim on women’s day

Moushumi Das Gupta, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 06, 2013
First Published: 22:24 IST(6/3/2013) | Last Updated: 00:12 IST(7/3/2013)

Coming close on heels of the US state department deciding to honour the 23-year-old woman who was brutally gangraped in the Capital on December 16, the Indian government has also decided to honour her "fighting spirit" on International Women's Day this Friday.

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President Pranab Mukherjee would be dedicating the "Stree Shakti Puraskar" to the brave woman whose death sparked off nationwide protest from citizens demanding more stringent measures to curb crime again women.

Sources said the Women & Child Development (WCD) ministry -- which had instituted the award to honour outstanding women from across the country -- has decided to dedicate one of the six "Stree Shakti Puraskar" this year to the gangrape victim.  The award carries a cash prize of Rs. three lakh and a citation.    

"In a departure from the past, we have decided to dedicate the award to the fighting spirit of the girl. We believe the incident stirred the country, especially its youth to a new awakening," said a WCD ministry official.

The woman's family is being informed of the government's decision.

"If they want to attend the award function at Vigyan Bhawan they are welcome. Otherwise our officials will deliver the award at their home," said a source.

The brutal gangrape not only triggered national outrage but also jolted the government into action.

Within a week of the December 16 incident a three member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India JS Verma was set up to review possible amendments of the criminal law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment to criminals in rape cases.

The committee's recommendations formed the basis for the ordinance on rape laws that was promulgated on February 3. A majority of the Verma panel's recommendations have also been incorporated in the draft criminal laws (amendment) bill which will replace the ordinance on rape laws.

Ministry officials, however, insisted that the government's decision to honour the girl was not taken after a similar gesture was made by the US state department. "A committee set up by us decided 10 days back to honour the gangrape victim with Stree Shakti Puraskar. It was in our mind all the time," added the official. 

US first lady Michelle Obama and secretary of state John Kerry will posthumously honour the victim with "woman of courage" award for her brave attempt to fight her assaulters.


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