Incredible India! shout all those lovely government-funded ads, showcasing a fantastically beautiful, diverse, happy, smiling India. Try telling that to the Swiss woman who was gang-raped in Madhya Pradesh, or to the young British woman who had to jump out of the window of her three-star hotel room in Agra to avoid a sexual attack in the predawn darkness. Two attacks on foreign women in three days. And just a week after the country “celebrated” International Women’s Day.
As the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 made its winged way through Parliament last week, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde applauded this as a loud, clear and deterrent signal: Indian society would no longer tolerate the ‘errant behaviour’ that shook us on December 16. Unfortunately the degree to which parliamentarians` discussion of the Bill was warped by bigotry, not to mention aspects of the Bill itself, underlined how foolhardy it would be to believe that this new law alone will make women and girls safer in India.
PATNA: As the UPA government gears up to replace the ordinance on sexual violence against women with a new bill, women activists are not happy with the version of the bill passed by the Union cabinet.
Even as the Maharashtra government congratulated itself for addressing issues of the transgender population in a draft policy announced earlier this month, one of the provisions of the policy, which states people being transgender can be prevented through medical care, has angered the marginalised community. By this, the government has failed to acknowledge that being transgender is a choice of many people, the community’s empathisers say.
If the Justice Verma committee report were to be made available as a paperback, it would find space on bookshelves somewhere between Sylvia Plathand Virginia Woolf. It is a telling indictment of the condition of women in a particular time and space. It is sensitive, well-thought-out, lucidly written and even brings an immediacy of personal experience. And more than anything else, it is capable of sending into deep depression the shiniest of optimists.
NEW DELHI: The amended anti-rape law does not include prostitution as a form of exploitation unlike the ordinance that criminalized sex work. The Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2013 makes a distinction between sexual exploitation and consensual adult sex work. The move was welcomed by sex workers and activists who had slammed the ordinance that defined prostitution as exploitation.
One of the positive consequences of the public protests in the aftermath of the 16 December 2012 gang-rape in Delhi has been the intense public focus on rape and sexual violence in India. For long buried by the patriarchal establishment and its state, this issue has now become impossible to ignore anymore and even the most reactionary parts of India’s political establishment are forced to demonstrate that they are going to act on sexual violence. The report of the committee headed by the retired chief justice of India, J S Verma has been a major achievement in putting forth a framework for a progressive law on this issue, a structure that addresses the many different aspects of sexual violence and provides sensible measures which will help plug loopholes and provide justice to victims of sexual violence.