Strong anti-rape law for India as President Pranab clears the Bill #Vaw #Womenrights


 NEW DELHI, APRIL 3, 2013 | PTI

An anti-rape protester

An anti-rape protester
President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the anti-rape bill which provides for life term and even death sentence for rape convicts besides stringent punishment for offences like acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism.Mukherjee accorded his assent to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill-2013 on Tuesday, brought against the backdrop of the country-wide outrage over Delhi gangrape , and it will now be called the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, an official release said on Wednesday.The law, passed by Lok Sabha (lower House of Indian Parliament) on March 19 and by Rajya Sabha (upper House of Indian Parliament) on March 21, has replaced an Ordinance promulgated on February 3.It amends various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Evidence Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

With an aim of providing a strong deterrent against crimes like rapes, the new law states that an offender can be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 20 years, but which may extend to life, meaning imprisonment for the remainder of the convict’s natural life and with a fine.

It has provisions for handing out death sentence to offenders who may have been convicted earlier for such crimes.

The law, for the first time, defines stalking and voyeurism as non-bailable offences if repeated for a second time. Perpetrators of acid attack will attract a 10-year jail.

It also defines acid attack as a crime besides granting a victim the right to self-defence. It also has provisions for imposing a minimum 10-year jail term for perpetrators of such acts.

The law has fixed age for consensual sex at 18 years.

New sections to prevent stalking and voyeurism were introduced following a strong demand from women’s organisations.

The amendments seek to define and prescribe punishment for the offences of stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment.

The law also seeks to widen the definition of rape, broaden the ambit of aggravated rape and enhance the punishment for such crimes.

It also provides that all hospitals shall immediately provide first aid and/or medical treatment free of cost to the victims of acid attack or rape, and failure to do so will attract punishment.

It has provisions for a minimum imprisonment of seven years which may extend to imprisonment for natural life, and a fine for rape convict if he is found to be a police officer, a public servant, armed forces personnel or management or hospital staff.

The law also seeks to amend the Indian Evidence Act to allow a rape victim, if she is temporarily or permanently mentally or physically disabled, to record her statement before a judicial magistrate with the assistance of an interpreter or a special educator. It also has provisions to video-graph the proceedings.

Read more at:http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pranab-mukherjee-assent-anti-rape-bill-sexual-harassment/1/260483.html

 

#India – Young Love, old moralities #moralpolicing #ageofconsent #adolescentsex


Kamayani Bali Mahabal | March 23, 2013, Times Crest

The whole debate around the age of consent is clouded by foolish misconceptions, some of them legal and many of them cultural.

Do Baba Ramdev and others know what the implications of reducing the age of consent are? They have been crying themselves hoarse that the move will lead to a rise in the incidents of rape.
‘Age of consent’ does not imply the age at which you are allowed to consent for sex. It is a legal concept which means that this will be the age below which ‘consent’ will not be considered a valid defence against a rape charge. So if a 16-to-18-year-old boy is charged with rape, he will be convicted even if the girl tells the court she had consented.

There is also another misconception at work in this debate. The age of consent is not being reduced – in India, the age of consensual consent has always been 16. Consensual intercourse with a girl under this age was construed as “statutory rape”. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, enacted in 2012, increased the age of consent to sexual intercourse from 16 to 18. The Verma Committee recommended that the age of consent in the Indian Penal Code should revert to 16.

Where does the age of consent stand in other countries? Britain, 16, France, 15, and in Spain, 13. In the United States, the age ranges from 16 to 18 years, depending on the state in the question. People need to understand that it is quite normal for people to have sexual relationship at 16 or 17.

The reason feminists are asking age of consent to be kept at 16 years is that we do not want to criminalise and send off young boys to prison when they are in a consensual sexual relationship. As Judge Kamini Lau in her judgment last year said in the absence of what she called a “close-in-age reprieve, ” the increase in the age of consent “would become regressive and draconian as it tends to criminalise adolescent sex. ” If the age of consent is raised to 18, any sexual contact between teenagers will be considered rape, period. And all big brothers who want to control their sisters’ freedom will use it to accuse any boy/male classmate/friend who befriends their sisters, strengthening the patriarchal stereotypes which the women’s movement has been fighting to eliminate for decades.

According to the apex body of child rights in the country, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, children’s homes are full of boys who have eloped or had consensual sex with young girls whose disapproving parents have filed cases of kidnapping and rape against them. This means that a later age of consent is widely used as a weapon by protective parents.

Then there is the other question: Would pegging the age of consent at 16 encourage trafficking and rape? How can it? Trafficking and rape are a crime, no matter what the age. If it is raised to 18, young boys, especially from Dalit and tribal communities, will face rape convictions for consensual relationships with upper caste/class girl.

We need to amend the law whereby a man who is 4-5 years or more older than a 16-to-18-year-old girl can be convicted of statutory rape, irrespective of the consent of the girl, as he can sexually exploit a young girl.

The issue here is not if teenage sex is good or bad but if consensual sex between teenagers is to be defined as rape or not. We are drafting a criminal law, not a moral or a social code like the Manu Smriti.
The various babas, religious groups and the khap panchayats believe that young persons, particularly girls, should not exercise any sexual freedom. They view marriage, as determined by their families, as the only destiny for young women. The decision to have sex or not is personal. The law cannot decide when and where a person should have sex, it can only frame laws to prevent crimes.

We should understand the difference between consensual sex and marriage. A marriage is not all about sexual gratification. It is a big social responsibility, which ties a person not only to his or her partner but also to the family and kids. So the age for marriage and consensual sex should be looked at differently. Are child marriages held with the consent of children? No, they are thrust upon them. The argument for keeping the age of consent at 16 years is to prevent the criminal law from interfering in the rights of young people to exercise sexual autonomy and agency. This will curb societal control along conservative lines of caste, class and religion.

While drafting the new law, there are some contemporary realities that government appears to have forgotten. It is medically accepted fact that the age of puberty has been coming down across populations around the world. Biologically, therefore, youngsters are starting to feel the effects of sex hormones raging around their bodies much earlier. According to the third National Health Survey, 2005-06 nearly 43 per cent of women aged between 20-24 had engaged in intercourse before they were 18.

Do we have anything close to sex education in India to allow young people to make informed choices? We need to equip teenagers so they can understand their bodies, and respect sexual attraction, not despise it, and deal responsibly with it. We should not criminalise that attraction. If we do, young men will only end up fearing and hating women, and developing a distorted perception of sexuality and women. This will only make them more violent towards women.

Is this the way we want to deal with violence against women? The criminal law should take into account a teenager’s ability and maturity to make decisions about sex. It should help them deal with their sexuality in an informed and responsible way. Law should strengthen our rights and freedoms and not be an instrument of social control or moral policing.

Now that the government has passed the Bill with the age of consent at 18, we have opened avenues for the prosecution of young boys and girls. We have acknowledged that the Indian society wishes to treat its young boys and girls as immature individuals incapable of making a responsible decision about their sexual lives. Now let us think, is this one step forward or four backwards?

The writer is a lawyer and human rights activist.

 

#India- Facts and Myths – Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2013 #Vaw #Justice #mustshare


FACTS AND MYTHS

THE CRIMINAL LAW (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2013,

PROPOSED BY THE GOVERNMENT

March 16, 2013

 

FACTS AND MYTHS

THE CRIMINAL LAW (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2013,

PROPOSED BY THE GOVERNMENT

March 16, 2013

 

The Justice Verma Committee (JVC) report was a landmark statement, applauded by all citizens, welcomed by all Political Parties. JVC was significant because it showed a mirror to the Constitution of India, and reflected its wise and just guarantees of women’s equality. Today the women and youth of India are looking with hope and expectation towards Parliament, and towards all Political Parties. We urge all Members of Parliament to pass a law upholding the spirit and letter of the Justice Verma Committee; to pass a law that makes a step forward in our collective struggle to end sexual violence in India.

 

 

Myth 1: The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 is against men.

 

Fact: The new anti-sexual violence Bill is NOT against men. For our fathers, brothers, husbands, partners, neighbours and colleagues are men too. Are these Men in our lives not committed to seeking an end to the constant threat of sexual violence lurking around every corner? Yes, men must, and men do support this Bill. For this bill is against criminals. It is against the scourge of sexual violence, and seeks to prevent and protect our society from heinous sexual crimes like rape, molestation, disrobing and parading women or stalking.

 

We know that men too can be vulnerable to sexual attacks by criminal men. And we welcome the Bill’s recognition that both men and women can be victims of acid attack and provides protection to all ‘persons’ for these offences. But we further ask you, our Parliamentarians, to recognize that men must also be protected against the crime of rape and custodial rape committed by other men, and to change the definition of victim in section 375 and section 376 (2) to ‘person’ and not restrict victimhood in these instances to women alone. Men and women are and must remain partners in this battle against sexual violence. And all ‘persons’ deserve protection of the law against rape.

 

 

Myth 2: If the age of consent for sexual act is lowered to 16 years, this will encourage child marriage, prostitution and trafficking.

 

Fact: The age of consent for sexual relations in India has stood at 16 years for the last 30 years, since 1983. The age was increased without adequate public discussion in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, May 2012, 9 months ago, and later, in the hasty Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance of Feb 4th 2013. The JVC report recommends that it be retained at 16 years as it always has been in the IPC, to prevent criminalization of young persons for consensual sex. Women’s groups are merely asking for it to be retained at 16 years, rather than increase it unthinkingly to 18 years.

 

Retaining age of consent at 16 years does not mean social or moral endorsement or encouragement of teenage sexual activity. The law is not asking young people to do this or that. This is merely an acknowledgement that if two young people consensually decide to engage in sexual contact, we might want to teach them and educate them but we do not want to treat them instantly as criminals, or consign them to custody. For that is what ‘age of consent’ means – it means that a boy who has sexual contact with someone below the age of consent is committing statutory rape. If that age is now raised to 18, it means that boys of 16-18 years, or slightly older, will be held guilty of committing statutory rape if they have consensual sex with another person who is also between 16-18 years. In such cases, the judge will have no discretion under law and will be forced to place such boys in protection home (if under 18 years) or in jails (18 or above).

 

Indian society does not wish to treat as criminals and rapists young men and women who might engage in consensual sexual acts. For we must recognize that ‘criminalizing as RAPE’, the consensual acts of young adults, will make most vulnerable our young men, particularly those from marginalized communities. Third party complaints of statutory rape against young boys will force the Courts to condemn them to prison (if over 18) or protection homes for juveniles (if under 18) for committing no crime other than consensual sexual contact.

 

We must retain the age at 16 because raising the age to 18 years does not provide additional protection to young women against rape or sexual assault. It only serves to increase societal control over the lives and decisions of young persons, both young men and women. To protect their fundamental rights including the right to choice and sexual autonomy and agency, the law must keep 16 years as the age of consent for sexual acts.

 

Why should the age of marriage be 18 years and consent for sexual acts be retained at 16 years?

 

The age of marriage must be retained at 18 years. Marriage is a serious commitment and entails many long-term responsibilities of life, and it is appropriate to keep the age of marriage at 18 years. But there is no merit or useful purpose served by keeping one uniform legal age for every act of a human being. Studies, surveys and research conducted across India, including in rural India, all indicate that young people are engaging in consensual sexual activity between the ages of 16-18 years. The anxiety and legitimate concerns of parents on this count is real and valid. However, the answer to that lies outside the law – in education in schools and within families, and communication between the parents, teachers and young persons.

 

Retaining the age of consent at 16 years is only to ensure that when teenagers engage in consensual sexual activity, it does not lead to young boys being punished and imprisoned. Retaining age of consent for sexual contact at 16 years does not have any bearing or adverse impact on the efforts to prevent child marriage, to which we all stand committed.

 

In any case, marriage of persons under 18 years is legal and valid under the law. Consequently, sex between spouses, one or both of who may be between 16-18 years is not criminalized. Raising the age of consent to 18 years, treats consensual sex between married persons, one or both of whom may be between 16-18 years, differentially from sex between unmarried persons of the same age group. Tainting an unmarried boy of under or above 18 years with the stigma of criminality for consensual sex is unduly harsh and discriminatory, when compared with the legal status of a married boy of the same age.

 

Will the age of consent at 16 years lead to more trafficking and forced prostitution of women and children?

 

It must be emphasized that key to the definition of RAPE is the absence of consent of the woman. Each case where there is such absence of consent must be treated as a crime and punished.

 

In the case of trafficking and forced prostitution this issue of ‘consent’ whether at 16 or 18 is totally irrelevant. In cases of trafficking or forced prostitution, the consent of the girl or woman at any age is neither free nor voluntary; it is coerced and hence in the eyes of law does not amount to consent. The issue of age is irrelevant in all cases of trafficking and forced prostitution. As pointed out in the Justice Verma Committee Report, the police and other powerful forces are complicit in the crime of trafficking and forcing women and children into exploitative work. The 2013 Bill has special provisions to deal with Trafficking and we must ensure that these are rigorously enforced by the police.

 

Myth 3: The offences of Voyeurism and Stalking will trap innocent men.

 

Fact: The offence of Voyeurism as defined in Sec. 354C IPC, is very specific and pointed in scope and has no possibility of misuse or abuse. In villages, towns and cities, we know that the poor do not enjoy the luxury of a private bathroom in their homes. This makes the young girls and women particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse even as they perform routine activities of bathing, attending to the call of nature in fields and open public places. They are always fearful of men who may use this occasion to watch them or take pictures of them as they perform these private activities. The offence of Voyeurism will punish a man who watches or records a woman while she is in any private act where her private body parts may be exposed. This offence seeks to uphold the dignity of women and makes the violation of their fundamental right to privacy a crime.

 

Stalking: The crime of stalking takes a serious toll on the life of women. Gripped by fear and anxiety due to being repeatedly followed by a man, girls and women have been forced to drop out of education, quit jobs and even change homes to escape the stalker. The rape and murder of the young law student Priyadarshini Mattoo, is a grim reminder that if the stalker is not stopped, he can rape and kill. Stalkers are also known to throw acid on their victims, as a way to take revenge. By making stalking a crime, the law can actually prevent rape and other forms of aggravated sexual crimes and save innocent women from being brutally sexually assaulted or killed. The codification of this crime will fill an important lacuna in the present law.  Only in situations where a man repeatedly follows a woman, either physically or through the Internet and this causes her fear or distress, will the crime of stalking be recognised as such.

Related Articles

 

 

#India- Proposed criminal law makes acid attack, voyerism ,stalking criminal offences #Vaw


 

 

Cabinet clears Bill to tackle crimes against women

 

 

A man plays the guitar during a protest against the Dec 16 Delhi gangrape.A man plays the guitar during a protest against the Dec 16 Delhi gangrape.
A man plays the guitar during a protest against the Dec 16 Delhi gangrape.

 

 Agencies, march 14, 2013

 

 

A Bill providing for stringent punishment for crimes against women, including rape, and also defining acid attack, stalking and voyeurism as criminal offences, was today cleared by the Union Cabinet.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 also lowers the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16 years and makes ‘rape’ as a gender-specific offence under which men only can be charged for it.

The Bill, brought against the backdrop of the December 16 Delhi gangrape, provides for minimum jail term of 20 years for rape which may be extended to ‘natural life’ of the convict in jail.

There is also provision for death sentence if the victim dies or is left in a ‘persistent vegetative state‘.

Stalking, voyeurism have been defined as criminal offences in the bill. Sustained stalking will be a non-bailable offence.

The Bill had divided the Cabinet at its special meeting on Tuesday and was referred to a Group of Ministers (GoM) to sort out differences on various aspects of the proposed law.

The GoM finalised the draft yesterday amidst the government’s keenness to expedite the bill that will replace an ordinance promulgated on February 3.

The bill uses the term ‘rape’ which will be gender- specific, in contrast to the gender-neutral ‘sexual assault’ as proposed in the ordinance.

The bill also lowers the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16 years. In the ordinance, it was 18 years.

The measure, on the lines of the ordinance, has not touched on the issue of making marital rape a separate offence.

Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath, who has been opposed to lowering the age of consent to 16 years, is learnt to have raised the issue again in today’s Cabinet meeting, sources said.

The issue of age had led to lengthy inter-ministry consultations with some arguing that it should not be reduced.

Sexual intercourse below the age of consent is considered statutory rape.

The government decided to drop the term ‘sexual assault’ and replace it with ‘rape’ following demands by women’s rights groups who had maintained that laws should be more gender sensitive than gender neutral.

Defining acid attack as a separate IPC offence, the bill proposes a punishment of not less than 10 years to a maximum of life imprisonment, the sources said.

Repeat offences of voyeurism, inappropriate touch, gesture and remarks have been recommended as non-bailable offences, they said.

Provisions seeking strong action against those filing false complaints were dropped from the draft bill yesterday as there was consensus in the GoM that existing provisions under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were adequate to deal with such cases and it was only a matter of enforcing them, the sources said.

The other proposal in the measure is understood to be on replacing the provision in the ordinance which has prescribed life imprisonment as the maximum punishment for those in authority committing rape. Now, a person in authority convicted of rape will have to spend rest of his “natural life” in jail.

A person in authority has been described as a police officer, a personnel of the armed forces, a doctor or a staffer of a hospital, a jailer or a warden of a remand home.

A fresh proposal now makes it mandatory for all government and private hospitals in the country to provide free medical treatment to women victims of any form of sexual violence.

Hospitals and similar facilities will not have to wait for the police. They can straight away start treatment after informing the police.

The refusal to do so will now be a criminal offence and will attract a one-year jail term for senior functionaries and the staff on duty of hospitals found guilty of turning away victims of sexual violence needing immediate medical care.

The bill has to be approved by Parliament before its recess from March 22, failing which the ordinance it proposes to replace would lapse on April 4.

Against the backdrop of some parties such as the Samajwadi Party having serious reservations on certain provisions of the ordinance claiming they are prone to misuse, the government has convened an all-party meeting next week to discuss the bill cleared by the Cabinet today.

 

Read more at:http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/cabinet-clears-bill-to-tackle-crimes-against-women/1/257909.html

 

 

 

#India- BILL VS ACT: Confusion over sex crime laws #Vaw #Womenrights


Manoj Mitta | TNN

Persisting differences within the Cabinet on the rape Bill will not just make it harder to replace the ordinance on rape laws before it lapses in less than a month (April 4)—the government may also have to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (PCSO) which was passed by Parliament just 10 months ago. This is because the differences over the rape Bill, however they are resolved within the Cabinet and in the two Houses, are unlikely to remove all the anomalies thrown up by the hurriedly drafted ordinance promulgated last month following the outrage over the Nirbhaya gang rape.
The inconsistencies between the sexual offences pertaining to adults and children underscore the failure of policymakers to think through the provisions. Consider the extent of the legislative mess that remains to be cleared on so crucial an issue as gender crimes.
AGE OF CONSENT|This is one of the sticking points because PCSO had, in a controversial move, raised the permissible age for consensual sex from 16 to 18 years. Then, in a bid to make the statute book consistent, the government introduced a legislative proposal on December 4, increasing the age of consent to 18 even in the general law, the IPC. But the J S Verma Committee, set up in the wake of the Nirbhaya incident, applied a corrective by recommending that the age of consent remain 16 as it has been for over seven decades. The government, however, disregarded this advice. While the parliamentary standing committee endorsed the government’s stand, feminist groups demanded that consensual sex among teens should not be criminalised unless the age gap was more than four years. The upshot is that if the government decides to retain the age of consent in IPC at 16, it will have to amend PSCO to bring it in alignment with the new policy.
GENDER-NEUTRALITY
|The government is also under pressure to depart from the radical approach adopted in the ordinance where the term “rape” was replaced with the broader, genderneutral offence of “sexual assault”. The ordinance is contrary to the Verma report as well as the demands made by feminist groups. The argument in favor of retaining the term “rape” as a crime committed by men is that the gender-neutral provision will make women, “the real victims”, even more vulnerable to sexual crimes. The possibility of counter-complaints against women would have a chilling effect on their ability to seek legal remedy after being subjected to sexual offences. If it does not abandon its gender-neutrality proposal, the government runs the risk of enacting a law that is opposed by the very section it is meant to protect.
MARITAL RAPEPCSO and the ordinance are at odds on this issue. PCSO, which applies to all children below 18, makes no exception for the rape of a girl by her husband. But marital rape is penalized by the ordinance only when the wife is below 16. The wives above 16 are statutorily barred from accusing their husbands of non-consensual sex. This one-sided restriction means that a husband can accused wife of rape while the wife can make such an allegation only if she is below 16.
LESSER PUNISHMENT FOR CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN
This is a reversal of the global pattern of prescribing greater punishment for crimes against children. Consider some of the anomalies that need to be fixed. While the minimum punishment in PCSO for a non-contact sexual assault is seven years, the minimum in the ordinance for the same offence is 10 years. If the offender touches the private parts of a girl under 18, the punishment under PCSO ranges from three to five years. But if the victim is a woman over 18, then the punishment under the ordinance ranges from 10 years to life imprisonment.

MUDDLE GROUND

 

PRESS RELEASE- Gender Just, Gender Sensitive and NOT Gender Neutral Rape Laws #Vaw #Justice


Parliamentary Committee ignores Verma Committee

 

The report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the 2012 Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill as well as the 2013 Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance not only violates the letter and spirit of the Justice Verma Committee (JVC) recommendations but endangers and deepens women’s vulnerability in this country.

Representatives of women’s groups, democratic and human rights groups and activists are alarmed about the following major lacunae in current legislative protection to women, upheld by the Standing Committee report:

 

The Accused Must Be Male: One pernicious provision of the Ordinance 2013, upheld by the Committee report is blanket gender neutrality of the perpetrator of sexual harassment, assault and rape. Put simply: unlike in existing law where the accused is male, the Committee recommendations if enacted into a proposed new Bill, will make it possible for women to be charged with these offences. This is wholly unacceptable.

  • The Reality of Rape: It is an act of violence that must be seen in the context of deeply entrenched power inequalities between men and woman in our society.  Gender neutral provisions only strengthen those already powerful, silencing the real victims. The police and legal system are part of this inequity and bias against women, evident in the huge impunity for rape in our country. Recommending that these laws be gender neutral makes mockery of this reality.
  • The Chilling Effect: Apart from situations where women hold positions of statutory authority (like police officers, etc), in all other situations,  making the accused gender neutral means that complaints by women can be met with  counter-complaints to get them to withdraw. Given the current odds against women securing justice, the gender neutrality of accused in sexual violence laws, will have a deep chilling effect on women’s ability to even file complaints.
  • Men, not boys: There is no basis to the argument that gender neutral laws allow young boys to be protected from abuse, because all young boys and girls are fully protected by gender neutral laws in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012.

 

Age Of Consent Must Remain 16: The Standing Committee report endorses the 2013 Ordinance, by raising the age of consent from 16 to 18, thus criminalizing the consent of young persons and exposing them to unjust imprisonment by forcing judges to take action merely on third party complaints, including khap panchayats. At the very least, any proposed new law should allow for a Young Person’s Defence, where consent of young persons between 16-18 years is taken into account if there is no more than 4 years age difference between two consenting parties.

 

Rape Within Marriage Must Be Recognized As An Offence: Marital status must not have any bearing on the right of a woman to say no! The law must recognize when sexual assault and rape occur within marriage. Also, current IPC provisions recognizing rape in the context of judicial separation must be replaced by simple separation, given that most separated couples do not get judicial decrees, but simply start living apart. Without this change the law makers are only sending a signal that even while living apart from her husband, a woman can be raped by him without any recourse to justice.

We are also deeply concerned by the Standing Committee’s silence on ending impunity for sexual assault by security forces. The existing statutory immunity for armed forces ‘acting in the line of duty’ surely cannot apply to sexual assault committed on women. No sanction should be required to proceed with prosecution of such personnel in sexual assault cases.

As the 2013 Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance and the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee enter into Parliament for debate, we urge ALL PARTIES aligned with women’s rights to ensure that laws made in the wake of the brutal Delhi gang rape case do not leave women even more vulnerable than they already are.

Date: 6th March 2013, signed by:

– Kalpana Mehta, Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch, Indore

– Vrinda Grover, lawyer, New Delhi

– Farah Naqvi, women’s rights activist, New Delhi

– Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, AIPWA

– Madhu Mehra, Partners for Law in Development, New Delhi

– Chayanika Shah & Sandhya Gokhale, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Bombay

– Deepti Sharma, Saheli, New Delhi

– Kamayani Bali Mahabal,  Kractivist

– Nandini Rao, New Delhi

– Albeena Shakil

– Lesbians and Bisexuals in Action, Bombay- Lawyers Collective, New Delhi

– Kalpana Vishwanath & Suneeta Dhar, Jagori, New Delhi

– Gautam Bhan, New Delhi

– AALI, Lucknow

– Nirantar, New Delhi

– Karuna Nundy, Advocate, Supreme Court of India

– Seema Misra, Lawyer, New Delhi

– Ayesha Kidwai, GSCASH, JNU

– Prita Rani Jha, Peace and Equality Cell

– Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression

 

#India- Anti-rape law: Government to reduce age of consent from 18 to 16 #Vaw


Reported by Sunil Prabhu, Edited by Shamik Ghosh | Updated: March 05, 2013 , NDTV

New Delhi The Home Ministry has moved a note proposing tough new rape laws for the approval of the Cabinet, which is expected to take it up on Thursday. It has inputs from a parliamentary committee which had studied the new rape laws that the government cleared as an Ordinance last month. Once the Cabinet clears these proposals, they will be put before Parliament.

Here are 10 developments:
  1. There are some amendments that the Home Ministry note proposes, among them that the age of consent has been lowered from 18 to 16 years. Under the existing laws, sexual intercourse under the age of consent is considered statutory rape.  (Watch)
  2. The ministry has reintroduced the word “rape” instead of sexual assault, which the Verma Commission, set up to draft new laws on crime against women, had recommended using as one with much wider definition.
  3. The government’s decision to reject marital rape as a criminal offense has been accepted. The Verma Commission had suggested that marital rape be included as a criminal offence, but the government argued that doing so would weaken traditional family values in India, and that marriage presumes consent. Women activists have fiercely opposed the government’s stand.
  4. The ministry has also rejected the Verma Commission’s suggestion that those in the armed forces accused of rape be brought under the ambit of criminal law; the government says this needs wider consultations.
  5. It has endorsed the government’s decision to introduce the death penalty for the most extreme rape cases. The Verma Commission had suggested that life imprisonment be used for cases where women die as a result of sexual assault.
  6. The Home Ministry adds to the present law the recommendation that hospitals and nursing homes, whether private or public, will have to provide treatment to victims of rape and failure to do so will be punishable.
  7. The government had promulgated the new ordinance on February 3.  President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent, and the provisions became the law pending approval from Parliament. The government had defended promulgating the ordinance saying there was a strong case to amend the law to check crime against women.
  8. The changed laws were based largely on the recommendations of the three-member Verma commission, headed by Justice JS Verma, which was set up after public outrage over the brutal gang-rape of a medical student in a moving bus in Delhi in December last.
  9. The provisions of the Ordinance were moved to a standing committee of Parliament made up of members of all parties to recommend changes if any. The Home Minister also held consultations with the Prime Minister before the Cabinet note was drafted.
  10. Once the Cabinet clears the new proposals, the ordinance will be repealed and a new criminal law amendment bill 2013 will be introduced. But any person booked under this present ordinance will be continued to be prosecuted under its provisions.

 

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