India: New Ordinance Must Ensure Justice for Sexual Violence
Monday, February 11, 2013 1:50 PM

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee promulgated a new ordinance to amend criminal laws on sexual crimes. The ordinance is a response to a deadly gang rape in Delhi last year. The ordinance amends India’s criminal laws by replacing the word “rape” with a broarder term “sexual assault,” which includes stalking, acid attacks and sexual harassment.
However, women human rights activists say that new ordinance does nothing to ensure justice. Kavita Krishnan, secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association, says "The government has stealthily passed this ordinance without sharing it with the public and without actually debating and discussing it."
A committee led by former Supreme Court Justice JS Verma prepared recommendations for the government. The committee also released a 657-page report on criminal law amendments which was saluted by women's human rights organizations. Unfortunately, activists believe not many of the recommendations were considered. According to Krishnan, “All the recommendations that can actually strike at the heart of impunity have been dropped.”
A commission led by a former judge of the Delhi high court, Justice Usha Mehra, is considering how the capital can be made safer but has not yet issued any recommendations. Delhi police have committed to recruit 418 female junior inspectors, establish a toll-free emergency police number and patrol between 8 pm and 1 am in the active zones of the city, among other measures to protect women’s safety. However, there is also a need to ensure judicial accountability to reduce violence against women, said Indra Jaising, a solicitor general of India and CEDAW Committe member.
Compiled from: Majumdar, Swapna, India Rape Ordinance Blasted by Female Activists, Womens eNews (11 February 2013).