Dealing with Rape & other sexual crimes against women

A quick compilation of suggestions emailed to Justice Verma Committee

The following is what I have emailed to the Verma Committee in response to their call to citizens to give suggestions regarding amendments to existing laws on rape and other sexual crimes against women.

Please add your suggestions and/or reiterate the ones with which you agree, and send by email to justice.verma@nic.in or through fax at 011-23092675 by 5th Jan, 2013. We simply can not afford to keep quiet at this juncture. It is necessary that the committee gets a sizeable cross-section of public opinion on various dimensions of this complex issue of crime against women.

Any crime has to be dealt with broadly at 3 levels – Prevention, Deterrence & Justice. Prevention requires Reforms to change attitude & systems on all related fields and implementation of systems. Deterrence comes from fear of consequences of committing a crime, which, in turn, flows from visibility of quick & certain apprehension of the culprit, conviction  and severity of punishment. Justice comes from reasonable correspondence of punishment to crime committed including reform & rehabilitation of the convict in eminently deserving cases – very discerningly & judiciously based on all critical dimensions like motivation, provocations, triggers, age & maturity, residual life out of jail after serving the sentence requiring the need to bring back the person to the social mainstream etc.

While Police and Administration has the first responsibility to ensure safety of citizens & quick apprehension of offenders, investigation & producing them with evidence before the Court of Law, the Legal system has the onerous responsibility to ensure carriage of justice as well as a major portion of deterrence in terms of  fast-track trial/conviction and exemplary punishment that instils fear of consequences.

Keeping in view the above and my understanding that the assigned scope of suggestions to be made by the esteemed Verma committee is to suggest amendments to existing Laws relating to crimes against women/ sexual offences, I, as a lay-person, offer the following suggestions. Legal nuances & modalities can always be worked out by the experts and experienced in the legal field.

 1.  The first cardinal principle on which  Laws relating to RAPE must be based on should be : “ Even a prostitute/sex worker has a right not to be raped.”

2. Rape to be made a non-bailable offense.

 3. Fast track courts at least for crimes against women of serious nature like rape, acid attacks and other serious sexual assaults ( to be clearly defined). The ideal position would be to have separate fast track courts for all crimes against women – from eve-teasing, stalking, molestation, other sorts of sexual harassment to acid attacks, rape, and dowry deaths.

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