Government Snubs #Justice #Verma Report on #India’s #Gender #Violence
In December 2012, the Delhi Gang Rape public uprising sent a furious message to the the government of India! That message was: ” We are not going to tolerate government apathy and corruption in face of the intolerable violence on girls and women in India.”
There’s an increase of 873% in India’s rape crime rate. Moreover, in 20 years, 20% of women will have been exterminated from India subject to all forms of gender specific violence. [Also browse our newspaper log]
The government’s first response was — stony silence! It pretended it didn’t hear!
As the uprising gathered momentum and all of India came on board, the government decided it to use brutal force to clamp down on the protestors.
When the clamor continued, and the government thought it is starting to look increasingly un-democratic and dictatorial to the outside world, it decided to use an old, Indian bureaucratic route! Let’s push paper for months, maybe years, till the public gets tired of waiting and goes away! So they asked J. S. Verma, ex-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to head an investigative panel on rape related violence on girls and women in India. The government obviously thought this important enough to ring Justice Verma’s door bell past midnight, and wake him up to hand him the government’s request and suggestions!
This strategy also backfired! Usually committees and their reports take months and even years! However, the Justice Verma Committee, which comprised of 3 Supreme Court Chief Justices: J.S. Verma, Leila Seth, and Gopal Subramanium, aided by 15 young lawyers, worked tirelessly, round the clock, with almost no aid or support from the government, and after collating of thousands of testimonies from victims, women’s groups etc. presented a 600 page report, complete with recommendations to the government in a record 29 days!
Again for 7 days there was no sound from the Prime Minister’s office! Then the government speedily both acknowledged the report, and came up with a new ordinance on rape and violence against women, claiming they’ve accepted 90% of the Verma Committee recommendations. This was done without pubic involvement, or parliamentary debate! But as Justice Verma himself has pointed out: the Government completely ignored the observations and recommendations of the Verma Committee!
In fact the Government even removed the Justice Verma report from its website so that the public would not be able to see what was the committee actually found out about the extent and state of violence on women in India and what it recommended!
HERE ARE THE MOST CRITICAL POINTS IN THE REPORT WHICH THE GOVERNMENT HAS COMPLETELY IGNORED!
#1 Establishes women’s rights as human rights but recognizing the bodily integrity of women, and their absolute right to safety from violence. This is a huge change in how sexual and other forms of physical violence on women have been viewed in India until now.
#2 Calls for the legal recognition of marital rape. This is in keeping with #1, where the committee believes that rape is rape, regardless of who commits it.
#3 Calls for the legal protection of gay/lesbian/transgender individuals subject to sexual assault, harassment and rape due to their sexual orientation. This is also in keeping with #1
#4 The committee is very clear on it findings that the escalating violence on women is not due to an absence of laws, but due to failure of the government, police and courts in doing this duties by the Constitution. [The implication of rampant corruption and dereliction of official duties are clear here].
#5 In keeping with #4 they also point out that they got little or no feedback/ cooperation from state governments and heads of police! They emphasize the need for accountability from police departments and individual officers. They also emphasize the need to clean the political system by ensuring politicians with rape and other criminal records be weeded out.
#6 Also in keeping with #4 is the issue of wide-spread rape of civilian women by soldiers of the Indian army in states with political movements, like Kashmir and the North Eastern States of India. The committee raises the need to amend the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act among other recommendations.
WE’VE EMBEDDED THE FULL REPORT BELOW. PLEASE READ AND DOWNLOAD!