New Delhi, Feb 2: Various women’s rights activist on Saturday criticised the government and rejected the ordinance sent to the President by the Union Cabinet for amendments in laws related to sexual assault on women.
The activists lashed out at the government for omitting some crucial issues like marital rape, and reviewing some sections of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Power Act), saying it had selectively accepted the recommendations of the Justice JS Verma commission.
The government had yesterday approved the ordinance to introduce stringent punishment for crimes against women.
Activists, including Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), Vrinda Grover, a human rights lawyer, Sunita Dhar of Jagori and Madhu Mehra from Partners for Law and Development expressed their ire at a press conference in the capital.
“It betrays the trust of thousands of men and women who marched on the streets of Delhi and other cities demanding an end to impunity for sexual violence,” said Vrinda Grover.
The activists alleged that the government had ignored the key recommendations of the Verma commission that could have empowered women in the fight against sexual violence.
The ordinance introduced yesterday is also silent on the recommendation to bar politicians facing charges of sexual offences from contesting elections.
The Justice Verma Commission had suggested that marital rape should be made an offence, a key demand of women’s rights activists.
It also observed that sexual violence was being legitimised under AFSPA and suggested that such crimes by members of the armed forces be tried under ordinary criminal law.
The Justice Verma commission is against death penalty in rape cases and recommends a maximum punishment of life in jail, but the government has favoured capital punishment in extreme cases.
The three-member committee led by former Chief Justice of India Justice (Retired) J. S. Verma, was constituted after a countrywide outrage following the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student in a moving bus on the night of December 16 last year. (ANI)