The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Saturday pitched for comprehensive changes in the existing legal system to put an effective check on incidents of sexual assault and said "inadequacies" in law should be plugged to be tougher in cases of eve-teasing and molestation. "We have sent the draft for the proposed Sexual Assaults Bill to the Government, wherein stringent punishment for offences other than rape has been advocated," NCW Chairperson Girija Vyas told reporters in Allahabad.
The proposal underlines inadequacies in existing laws, which are not adequately tough on offences like eve-teasing and molestation -- both traumatising for women as any other crime.
"Besides, even in cases of rape, the severity of punishment needs to be much higher, if the victims are of tender age and the perpetrators belong to law-enforcing agencies," Vyas said.
One of the main reasons for growing incidents of rape cases was reluctance of victims to lodge complaint. Realising that it might be due to "insensitivity" to which they are subjected to during investigation and trial, the NCW has suggested remedies in the draft.
"There should be just one in-camera recording of statement after which the victim/s must not be asked to narrate trauma again."
"We need to understand that murder kills a person only once. But, a rape victim is often condemned to die every moment of her life, a view expressed even by the apex court," she added.
Demanding speedy justice for the MBA student who was recently gang-raped in Noida, Vyas said, "we receive the maximum number of complaints from Uttar Pradesh, though the state does not rank first in the total number of crimes against women. This is, primarily, due to the insensitive approach of the state police in handling such cases." "The state police has been insensitive towards female crime victims. It was witnessed during the Nithari episode. Even more disgusting was the manner in which Aarushi murder case was handled."
The draft also calls for training of police force in states as they are found to be "casual" about crimes against women. "This is one of the reasons why there has been an increase of about 15 per cent in total incidents of crime against women between 2003-2007," the NCW chairperson said. "Besides, we have suggested that there must be a mechanism for rehabilitation of rape victims, so that they are not made to suffer the consequence of a crime that they have not committed."
The public should be sensitised about various laws framed to protect the rights of women. As part of it, the Commission would launch a campaign on January 16 under which rural women would be introduced into women-specific laws.