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The protests that began in December led to the government constituting the Verma committee that recommended amendments aimed at quicker trials and enhanced punishment in cases of sexual assault against women. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)
The protests that began in December led to the government constituting the Verma committee that recommended amendments aimed at quicker trials and enhanced punishment in cases of sexual assault against women. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
(Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

UN panel finds fault with govt approach on women’s safety

Fact-finding mission on violence against women says govt’s legal amendments don’t fully reflect the Justice J.S. Verma panel’s recommendations

New Delhi: A United Nations (UN) panel said the Indian government’s legal amendments don’t fully reflect the Justice J.S. Verma committee’s recommendations on improving women’s safety. The fact-finding mission on violence against women also criticized the government on Wednesday for “the adoption of a law and order approach" to sexual violence.

The government failed to devise a more holistic approach on the issue, said Rashida Manjoo, UN special rapporteur on violence against women, who visited New Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Manipur during her 10-day trip. “It is unfortunate that the opportunity to establish a substantive and specific equality and non-discrimination rights legislative framework for women, to address de facto inequality and discrimination, and to protect and prevent against all forms of violence against women, was lost," Manjoo told reporters. “Despite numerous positive developments, the unfortunate reality is that the rights of many women in India continue to be violated, with impunity as the norm, according to many submissions received," she said.

The trip had been planned before the violent gang-rape of a woman in December that sparked off widespread public protests across India. Subsequently, India has reinforced its record as a country where women and children aren’t safe, with instances of girls of five and even younger being being subjected to violent sexual abuse.

The protests that began in December led to the government constituting the Verma committee that recommended amendments aimed at quicker trials and enhanced punishment in cases of sexual assault against women.

The UN mission said there’s need for urgent measures to address the decline in the sex ratio; ensure that that all victims of domestic violence are able to benefit from the legislation on the subject; make certain that women’s rights are protected when it comes to large infrastructure projects; and reduce the disparity in literacy levels and specifically the educational status of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and Muslim women.

With regard to conflict-related sexual violence, it said legislation such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or AFSPA is “eroding fundamental rights and freedom", according to the testimony it has received.

The mission will discuss its findings at of the UN Human Rights Council in June next year.

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