Dubbing the government's ordinance on sexual violence against women an "eyewash," a number of women's groups today protested at Jantar Mantar seeking the complete implementation of the Justice Verma committee recommendations.
"This ordinance is an eyewash. It is diluting the actual recommendations of Justice Verma committee. We want a bill based not on this ordinance but the panel's suggestions," said Kavita Krishnan, secretary of All India Progressive Women Association (AIPWA).
Sehba Farooqui, secretary of All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), listed their demands which include recognising marital rape.
"While we wanted a gender specific definition of rape, the government's ordinance has made it gender neutral. Also, Verma panel's recommendation that no sanction will be required if the armed forces personnel are accused of a crime against woman has been turned down," she said.
"We were also in favour of recommendation that recognised marital rape. But this ordinance instead of strengthening the law will derail the issue," Farooqui said.
She also said that government's permission should not be required to pursue cases where public servants are accused of rape.
"Why should the government decide which cases are fake. Let the courts take a call on that. Also, command responsibility should be fixed where the armed forces are involved," argued Krishnan.
The protesting groups said they will continue their demonstrations to build pressure on the government.
"The government might have wanted to push the ordinance to give a message that it is moving fast on the issue of violence against women. But this should happen in a transparent manner. We will not defuse the pressure and will continue to push for our demands," she added.
Krishnan said women's groups will carry out a signature campaign in favour of implementing Justice Verma's recommendations.
"From February 21, we will all gather here at Jantar Mantar to hold a people's watch over Parliament to make sure that Justice Verma's recommendations are implemented," she said.
The women's groups have been protesting against the ordinance, saying it ignored several recommendations of the Justice Verma committee.
The Union Cabinet on Friday recommended the draft of the ordinance to the President for his assent in a bid to fast-track stringent amendments to the criminal laws to check crime against women. The ordinance came less than three weeks before the start of the Budget Session of Parliament.
The ordinance, based on the recommendations of the Justice J S Verma Committee and going beyond, also proposes to replace the word 'rape' with 'sexual assault' to expand the definition of all types sexual crimes against women