Age limit for marriage under the civil law should be uniform
Bringing gender neutrality in the present rape law will be a progressive step. Viewing sexual relationship with a girl under the age of 16-18 rather than 15, even if she is a wife, as a crime, must be looked in Indian context considering the concept of marriage in India. The age limit for marriage under the civil law should be uniform irrespective of any religion. Just changing the Indian Penal Code (IPC) will not make any difference; we have to make a great deal of changes in the investigation process, Criminal Procedure Act (CrPC) and Indian Evidence Act. Instead of changing the existing sections of IPC, I would suggest we add clauses to it.
Aroona Nafday, advocate
Sexual assault is not only limited to women, even men face it
I appreciate and welcome the changes recommended to the existing laws. Laws cannot be lopsided and must cover both women and men. At the same time, the law has to see that the weaker sex is protected. Nowadays, sexual assault is not only limited to women and girl child, even male children are becoming victims but such matters are not reported out of shame. The legal age to get married in India is 18, but the civil and religious laws differ on this point. This issue needs to be resolved first. Also, stalking and acid attacks on women are serious crimes and it must be brought under the law.
Asha Deshpande, social researcher
A person who throws acid on woman should be hanged
Every alternative day we hear about unfortunate incidents. This move to make amendments in the law by government seems to be a very promising and positive step. In Pune alone, there are many girl students and working professionals who have migrated from other cities and they get harassed by stalkers. The suggestion of The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) to add ‘stalking’ as crime is very impressive. Apart from this, a person who hurts a woman by acid should not just be put behind bars, but hanged. As it is throwing acid is as good as killing a person. These amendments must be implemented as soon as possible for the safety and security of the girls.
Ishani Nirgudkar, media professional
Men and male child must be covered under the existing laws
We have been demanding strict laws against any kind of sexual assault against the fairer sex. As of now there is no separate law for ‘attempt to rape’. I would suggest that the 376 IPC must be kept intact and additional clauses like A or B must be added to it. We also agree that men and male children must be covered under the existing laws pertaining to any kind of sexual assaults. I would also recommend that an individual should be considered a child till the age of 18, which is currently 16 under the law. I fully agree that stalking should be considered a crime and perpetrators of acid attack should face severe punishment.
Shubha Shamim, state secretary, Working Women
One must be considered a child up to the age of 18 years
Widening the definition of rape was being demanded for a long time by women organisations and activists. The Supreme Court has also recommended in one of its judgements that the government must expand the definition of rape and include sexual assault. Including sexual assault against a man and male child under the law is also a good step. It is very important that a male child too is protected from various forms of sexual assault. Children are nowadays more vulnerable to such attacks. My first demand is that one must be considered a child up to the age of 18 years. Also it is important to bring the rape law in consonance with Committee on the Rights of Child (CRC), a step which will have implications on child marriage in our country. I even believe that stalking must be considered a crime. As of now, many stalkers go unpunished so a stringent law in place will ensure conviction and justice to the victim.
Ramesh AwastHi, founder trustee, Mahila Sarvangeen Utkarsh Mandal