A girl lights candles during a candlelight vigil for a gang rape victim who was assaulted in New Delhi, in Kolkata
The Justice JS Verma committee, set up to propose amendments to existing Indian laws relating to crime against women, following the Dec.16 gang-rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi, submitted its report to the home ministry, Wednesday.
The three-member committee in their report has blamed the failure in governance, police apathy and gender bias for rising crimes against women. Justice Verma came down heavily on the police authorities for their lack of response to the requests from the committee, despite a nationwide outrage over the issue.
"One of the interesting features, because it is laughable, is that we expected response from the DGPs. There was hardly any response from any of them," Verma said, according to First Post. "If this is the attitude of DGPs then there needs to be a change in the steps taken to appoint the DGPs, which is among the recommendations we have made. The committee hopes that the concern shown by the government will not wane with the passage of time," he said.
He also criticized the government for failing to tackle crimes against women and said the existing laws are adequate to deal with sexual assaults, if proper implementation is assured from the authorities.
“Failure of governance is the obvious cause for the current situation,” he said.
The committee had received suggestions and recommendations from public, women groups, NGOs, government agencies, experts and political parties in and out of the country.
The horrific incident of the gang-rape of a paramedical student in a moving bus in south Delhi had made international headlines and sparked nationwide protests from the youth and women demanding protection against sexual assaults.
The committee said it had received more than 80,000 responses to the Home Ministry’s public notice inviting suggestions to curb crimes against women, from across India and abroad in about a month’s period.
The suggestions have also come from professors based in the Oxford and Harvard Universities, a judge from Australia and the Chief Justice of the Canadian Supreme Court, Zee News has reported.
“The committee acknowledges that some people from foreign countries volunteered and helped. I myself can’t believe how this was done in 29 days,” he told reporters.
The recommendations of the Justice JS Verma Committee include:
· Sitting members of Parliament with cases booked against them should step down
· All marriages should be registered. Dowry should be stopped, new medical protocol suggested for rape victims and laws should cover minorities including lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders
· Special commissioners should be appointed to address the issues of violence against women in conflict areas such as Kashmir, Chattisgarh and Manipur. Mechanisms need to be put in place to take action against crimes by the military and paramilitary forces in conflict zones, and armed forces must be brought under common law
· Establish a new constitutional authority akin to CAG for education and non-discrimination of women and children
· Increase the strength of judges with due consideration to the quality
· Implement police reforms and ensure autonomy of the police force
· Take measures to prevent politicization of the law enforcement agencies
· Every complaint of rape must be registered including instances of eve-teasing, stalking and voyeurism, insensitivity of police to deal with rape
· Crackdown on Khap Panchayats (a community group comprising elderly men), which are unconstitutional form of parallel legal system
· Make journey in public transport safer, especially for women
· Take measures to prevent marital rape and rape of children at home
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