Several women’s rights groups on Monday demanded better implementation of sexual assault laws, echoing protesters in the capital who have been demanding better security measures for women.
Stressing the need for engaging women’s rights representatives while framing such laws, senior advocate Vrinda Grover said: “The anger and outrage is welcomed on the issue of violence against women... However, the kind of responses coming from the government and unfortunately parts of the public is not making us hopeful.”
Protests in New Delhi intensified over the weekend after a girl was gang-raped and beaten in the capital last week. The protesters are demanding justice for the girl, who is critically injured, and tougher measures to deter and penalize such assaults.
While the debate has moved to the kind of punishment to be meted out in instances of sexual assault, larger issues remain unaddressed, Grover said.
“The definition of consent as it exists under the Indian Penal Code is problematic,” she told reporters at a joint press conference with several other women’s groups. “The fast-track courts do not work as the infrastructure for it is not in place.”
Deepti, (she uses one name), representative of non-governmental organization (NGO) Saheli, said having the death penalty as a punishment for sexual assault would be “counter productive” to the idea of justice.
“We need to understand that there is a basic change that needs to take place, which is what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour,” said Kalpana V., who is associated with an NGO, Jagori.