Minister assures of strong law on sexual harassment
Assuring that the country will have a strong anti-sexual harassment law before March 22, the Union minister for law and justice, Ashwani Kumar, said that the government was open to discussion on the inclusion of marital rape in the amendment as well.
Kumar was speaking at a panel discussion organised on creating a more gender sensitive NCR organised by the Global Shapers Delhi hub — an initiative of the World Economic Forum — on Wednesday.
“The bill is the starting point but law cannot be a knee-jerk reaction to incidents. That said, the government has an open mind though there are sharp differences in opinion that have to be discussed,” he said.
The panel also included Prakash Singh, former IPS officer, Vani Tripathi, national secretary, Bharatiya Janata Party, Geeta Luthra, senior advocate, Madhu Kishwar, founder Manushi, and Vrinda Marwah, program coordinator, Global South Knowledge Resources, CREA.
On the inclusion of marital rape in the new amendment, Madhu Kishwar said the issue was fraught with difficulties.
“We already have rules to deal with cruelty in marriages, which includes marital rape. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act too is there.
"Including marital rape in the new law will open it up for misuse as proving rape did not occur becomes very difficult for a man to prove in this situation,” Kishwar said.
The discussion also included the impunity given to army personnel under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
“When it comes to AFSPA, we need a mix and match of ideas. Making a senior culpable for a crime committed by someone working under him is a vicarious liability and requires debate. That does not go on to say that personnel in the armed forces should not have any accountability but there needs to be more discussion on the issue,” said Geeta Luthra, senior advocate.
The role of police, too, was debated at the panel discussion.
“There need to be fundamental reforms initiated in the police as the police are not accountable to the man on the street but to the government,” former IPS, Prakash Singh said.