Terming the incidents of violence and sexual offences against women as a "matter of shame", Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh today hoped that Parliament would urgently pass the necessary legislation to enact a comprehensive law in this regard.
"It is indeed a matter of shame that, notwithstanding the gains we have made, incidents of violence and sexual offences against women are on the increase," Dr. Singh said at a function to confer the Indira Gandhi prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development 2011 on social worker Ela Bhatt.
Dr. Singh said, the Justice J.S Verma committee have resulted in the promulgation an ordinance, amending and strengthening the criminal law to deal with sexual offences against women.
"It is our hope that Parliament will urgently pass the necessary legislation to enact a comprehensive law in this regard," he added.
He further said that the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012 has been passed by the Lok Sabha and is awaiting passage in the Rajya Sabha.
"Schemes aimed at giving restorative justice to victims of rape through financial assistance and support services, a national helpline for women and a "One Stop Crisis Centre" in 100 public hospitals under the aegis of the National Mission for Empowerment of Women are also under consideration of the government," he added.
Asserting that our endeavor to create an environment of security in which women can pursue their dreams will be a continuous effort, pursued jointly with civil society organizations, Dr. Singh said: "Our government too has made efforts to address the issue of women's empowerment by strengthening existing institutions, providing women better access to education and health care, ensuring equal opportunities for their participation in decision-making and mainstreaming gender concerns in processes of development.
"While more women are now joining the formal economy as a result, a corollary of these developments has been the heightened risk to their safety and security," he added.
Further praising Ila Bhatt's Dr. Singh said: "She (Ila) has been a deserving recipient of accolades around the world for her pioneering efforts in the area of women's emancipation and empowerment."
"While deliberating on the work of Ela-ben, I was struck by the similar idea of combating poverty that seems to be her motive force. By saying that poverty is the moral failure of a society, Ela-ben throws down the gauntlet to society at large. Her own attempt to attack poverty by organizing poor women and helping them empower themselves economically is at once aimed at the twin evils of poverty and gender discrimination. Some would even describe her very enterprise as audacious. I daresay that modern India could do with more of this kind of audacity," he added. (ANI)