With President Pranab Mukherjee signing the anti-rape ordinance in a double-quick time on Sunday, it seems that the government has shown immense willingness to address the issue of crime against women and acted promptly on Justice JS Verma committee recommendations. However, with the parliament session beginning in three weeks, would it have been wiser for the government to wait till there was a broader consensus on issues related to women’s safety? Speak Up finds out
Armed forces should be treated as civilians
The patriarchal system is the root cause for crime against women. Giving death penalty in rarest of rare cases will not solve the issue. It is also shameful that marital rape has not been recognised as a category of rape. A woman has a right to say no to her husband. A woman cannot be forced into sexual intercourse, even if she is married. Rapes committed by armed forces finds no mention in the ordinance. It is high time that the armed forces are not treated differently from the the civilians. Rapes committed by the armed forces must be tried in ordinary courts. The legacy of treating armed forces differently comes from the colonial period and has no relevance in a democratic country. However, I welcome the decision of replacing the word ‘rape’ with ‘sexual assault’. Sexual assault is a wider term which includes rape. Many women’s organisations have been demanding this for some time. The solution to the crimes against women is that there must be fast track courts to ensure speedy trials. The mindset of the people should change and women and men should be treated equally. The education system must instill a mindset of gender equality from a young age.
Lata Bhise Sonawne,
Vishakha Guidelines trainer
Ordinance goes against democratic principles
When Parliament is about to start in three weeks, what was the need for the ordinance to be pushed through in such a hurry? There has been no proper discussion on this ordinance thereby leaving many loopholes in them which need to be discussed. This ordinance goes against the democratic principles and takes a very selective and arbitrary view of the Justice Verma Committee. The women’s organisations feel that both the martial rapes and the rapes by armed forces should be brought into the ambit of the civil law. We might think that death penalty is not a solution, but what matters is the certainty of the punishment and how speedily it is delivered. You can have the strictest punishment, but what is the rate of the convictions? The entire judicial system has to be reformed if you wish to have an effective justice for crimes against women. The hasty manner in which the ordinance has been passed displays lack of seriousness on the government’s part. The government must implement the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee and other such committees if they are serious about tackling crimes against women.
Kiran Moghe, president,
Janwadi Mahila Sanghatna, Maharashtra
No need to push the ordinance in a hurry
I seriously doubt whether the government has studied the Justice Verma Committee’s recommendations. The committee has given a studied and thoughtful report, but the government has done an eyewash. There was no need for the government to push the ordinance in a hurry as the parliament session is just three weeks away. All the recommendations could have been discussed in the parliament and the elected representatives could have given their thoughts on them. It recommends death penalty in rarest of rare cases, which is again a problematic issue. It is difficult to define what rarest of rare cases are as there are no guidelines or formula to determine them. It leaves everything to the discretion of the judge concerned. Death penalty is also not a solution as it may lead to the rapist murdering the victim. The culprit needs to repent all his life and this is not achieved through death sentence.
Aroona Nafday, advocate
No mention of speeding up trials in ordinance
Women’s organisations expected the ordinance to reflect the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee. They felt that the government would implement the recommendations through the ordinance. However this has not happened and hence the organisations are disappointed. Neither martial rape nor rapes committed by armed forces have been included in the category of rape. The argument by the armed forces is that the personnel who commits rape or any other offence are court martialed and this process is undergone faster that its counterpart in the civilian courts. The decision to include death penalty in the ordinance is wrong as it has no place in a civilised society. Now that the ordinance has been passed, it is crucial that the government discusses it with the women’s organisations and a comprehensive and effective bill can be passed. The ordinance has no mention of speeding up court trials, which is again unfortunate.
Ramesh Awasti, founder trustee, Mahila Sarvangeen Utkarsh Mandal (MASUM)
Issue of marital rapes ignored
It is unacceptable that rapes committed by armed forces’ personnel are not covered in the ordinance. Far more rapes happen in areas where the army has a huge presence. The army tends to act with impunity. The issue of marital rapes has been completely glossed over. A woman has the right to say no, especially when her husband is abusive. The marital rape is a form of rape like any other. The process of court martial on rape accused in
the armed forces is kept
Nagmani Rao, professor, Karve Institute of Social Service