New Delhi: More than 100 women from Haryana, Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) held a noisy demonstration at Haryana Bhavan here and emanded strict action against those guilty of rapes in Haryana.
The activists were protesting the Haryana government's failure to curb a spree of rapes in the state over the past month.
Social activist Aruna Roy said the khap panchayat's (traditional community leaders' council which metes out summary justice in matters pertaining to caste relationships) suggestion to reduce the legal age of marriage for girls was tantamount to justifying rape and proposing child marriage.
Accepting that suggestion and lowering the legal age for marriage for girls to below the present 18 years would mean that the government would "promote rape of minor girls while they are not physically or mentally fit for marriage", Roy told IANS, terming child marriage a "statutory rape".
The activists who protested Monday said that Haryana has witnessed more than 10 rapes in the past one month. Instead of taking strict action against those accused, Haryana Police were just conducting initial inquiries and closing cases, the protestors said.
Annie Raja, general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), said rape victims live in fear while the government sits idle.
The state police are reluctant to take action against rape accused, she said.
National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR) president Suresh Kumar Taank told IANS: "Dalit women are targeted in a majority of cases. In Jind district alone, two Dalit girls were raped by persons living in their area. Only a few were arrested, and the rest are still at large in both the cases. Both cases were reported last month."
Members of women's organisations submitted a memorandum to Haryana Resident Commissioner P.K. Mahapatra, which was later forwarded to Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.