President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said he was ashamed of the Delhi gang-rape, and called for 2013 to be dedicated to the safety and security of women.
He was speaking at the UP assembly hall here at a function to mark 125 years of the UP legislature.
Speaking for the first time on the December 16 gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi, he said, “We are ashamed.” He said such incidents were occurring in other parts of the country, too.
“There is no excuse. As a nation, we should be ashamed,” he said, adding, “If a nation cannot respect its mothers and daughters, it is not civilised.”
“All religions and civilisations underline the honour of women, and it can’t be maintained by merely making laws. It has to be part of our culture, system and way of life,” he said. “Each and every Indian should resolve to dedicate 2013 to the safety, security and dignity of our mothers, sisters and daughters,” he asserted.
UP minister for parliamentary affairs Azam Khan followed it up by saying that if rape incidents were to be curtailed, it was crucial to ensure strict and speedy punishment. Trials of rape cases accompanied by the victim’s murder should not take more than a month, he said.
The minister said the present laws were effective enough in tackling the rape menace, provided speedy justice was ensured. He suggested that the new proposed anti-rape law should also make provision to ensure witnesses in rape incidents depose before the court. “If a witness tries to avoid deposition, his responsibility should also be ensured under law,” he added.
Earlier in his speech, the President called upon MLAs and MPs to utilise the time of state assemblies and Parliament purposefully. He pointed out that in the 14th Lok Sabha, 416 hours were wasted on disruptions. He said, “Disruptions not only disturb the House, but also deny other members’ the right to raise matters of public interest.”