Anti-rape ordinance protest in Delhi today

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 04, 2013 07:53 hrs

New Delhi: Women's groups are expected to demonstrate at Jantar Mantar here on Monday to protest against provisions in the anti-rape ordinance that President Pranab Mukherjee signed on Sunday, said reports.

The President gave his approval to the ordinance despite women's groups disapproving of the provisions in it.

The women's groups had earlier urged the President not to sign it. "The ordinance is a complete betrayal of the people's faith. We are alarmed at the complete lack of transparency displayed by the government in proposing the ordinance as an emergency measure," women rights activist Vrinda Gover was quoted as saying.

The ordinance, that came into effect as soon as President Pranab Mukherjee signed it, will have to be passed by Parliament within six months and is likely to be done in the Budget Session that begins on Feb 21.

Foreign minister Salman Khurshid said when the Parliament was not in session, all you could do was bring an ordinance. "It does not mean that widespread consultation cannot take place when the actual bill is brought into parliament," he said.

The women activists, representing a number of organisations including Jagori, All India Progressive Women's Association and Partners for Law and Development, had earlier slammed the government for coming out with the ordinance when Parliament session is just three weeks away.

Secretary of All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) Kavita Krishnan termed the ordinance as "an absolute mockery" of Justice Verma panel's recommendations.

"We were alarmed to see the ordinance as it ignored many recommendations of that committee. The government has stealthily passed this ordinance without sharing it with the public and without actually debating and discussing it. All the recommendations than can actually strike at the heart of impunity have been dropped," she was quoted as saying.

Law minister Ashwani Kumar also echoed Khurshid's views and said the government would be happy to review the ordinance if required.

"There may be difference of perception but a lot of effort has gone into it (the ordinance)," reports quoted him as saying.

The women's groups however said, the government should have adopted a holistic approach to the Verma Committee report, which is comprehensive, and multifaceted.

They also said that violence suffered by women in conflict situations are excluded by the government in the ordinance.

Issues of sexual autonomy, the rights of women not be raped within marriage, the concerns of those with alternative sexualities, have been ignored. The discussions around the death penalty which led to the Verma committee not including it in the recommendations have not been considered, they said.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat on Saturday said her party disapproved the new anti-rape law ordinance that was cleared by the Union Cabinet on Friday.

"The content of the ordinance is doing injustice to the Justice Verma recommendations because it is highly selective in what it has included in the ordinance," she said.

"And in fact what it has included in some parts also is against what Justice Verma has recommended. We don't agree with this ordinance," Karat said.

The Union Cabinet on Friday cleared the new anti-rape law ordinance that mandates tougher jail terms for crimes against women, including the death penalty for extreme cases of sexual assault.

The ordinance incorporates some of the recommendations of the Justice Verma commission but ignores others such as cognizance of marital rape and amendments to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

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