Women's groups unhappy with anti-rape ordinance



New Delhi: Leading women organisations on Saturday rejected the ordinance on sexual crimes against women terming it as "complete betrayal" of people's faith in the government and urged President Pranab Mukherjee not to sign it.

"The ordinance is a complete betrayal of the people's faith. We are alarmed at the complete lack of transparency displayed by the government in proposing the ordinance as an emergency measure," women rights activist Vrinda Gover said.

The women activists, representing a number of organisations including Jagori, All India Progressive Women's Association and Partners for Law and Development, slammed the government for coming out with the ordinance when Parliament session is just three weeks away and urged the President not to sign it.

"We are alarmed at the complete lack of transparency shown by the government.... We call upon the President not to sign such an ordinance," the group said.

Kavita Krishnan, secretary of All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) termed the ordinance as "an absolute mockery" of Justice Verma panel's recommendations.

"We were alarmed to see the ordinance as it ignored many recommendations of that committee. The government has stealthily passed this ordinance without sharing it with the public and without actually debating and discussing it. All the recommendations than can actually strike at the heart of impunity have been dropped," she said.

The Union Cabinet yesterday cleared an ordinance providing for tough punishment including death sentence if a rape victim dies or is left in vegetative state.

Krishnan said women groups will hold protest on Monday to oppose the government action.

"The government acted stealthily, passing the ordinance without sharing it with the public and without debating and discussing it," Krishnan said.

The group representing these organisations said, "The present piecemeal and fragmented ordinance can only serve to sabotage the intention of providing recourse to victims of violence. Some significant amendments concerning culpability of the state, punishment to officers, including those with command responsibility, the issue of bringing the army personnel under the jurisdiction of criminal law, have been excluded from the ordinance."

Among the organisations represented were Centre for Women's Development Studies, Joint Women's Programme, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, Muslim Women's Forum and Young Women's Christian Association of India, All India Democratic Women's Association, Guild of Service and National Federation Of Indian Women.

PTI