The government has decided to launch a scheme to compensate rape victims from August 1 even as efforts are on to give more teeth to laws.
"The rape victim compensation scheme will take off from August 1. Earlier the Planning Commission had some reservations but it has been sorted out," Krishna Tirath, women and child development minister, told HT in an exclusive chat.
Citing the large number of central schemes already in operation, the plan panel had suggested the setting up of a fund rather than a scheme. The scheme provides an amount of Rs 2 lakh for the victim which may be increased to Rs 3 lakh in certain cases, like the rape of a minor or of a mentally or physically challenged victim.
"We are also in the process of amending the laws relating to rape to make them more stringent and tough. A committee is already working out the details on legal provisions and stricter penalties including a change in the definition of rape," Tirath said.
In Mount Abu for a parliamentary consultative body meet, the minister stressed on the need to tackle the root causes of such crimes.
"The tendency is to look upon women as 'weak', more so in the case of Dalits and the poor. The need therefore is to overcome that mindset. And that change has to come first from women," she added.
A total of 63,601 cases of rape were registered in the country from 2007 to 2009. There is wide belief that incidents of rape are grossly underreported in India.
Having already embarked on her pet project on women's empowerment and the way forward by holding wide-ranging consultations with Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes women representatives, Tirath is now keen to expand her scope.
"We will now expand the process to women from minority communities, Other Backward Castes and the economically weaker among the forward castes."