Activists call for systemic change

While sharing their grief over the demise of the Delhi gang-rape victim, the civil society and the Left party on Saturday demanded removal of systemic flaws which make sexual assault on women possible and slammed the government for mishandling people’s protest against the tragedy. 

Seeking to tackle the issue from its roots, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar, social activist Sister Celia, Geetha Ramakrishnan and Madhuresh said in a joint statement: “Let us resolve to not just deal with the immediate symptoms but also look at the root causes in a way that our efforts do not end with candle light vigils and slogan shouting and it will lead to systemic and fundamental changes making India a safe country for women and all and those facing the brunt of these violence get justice sooner.”

Medha and others also opposed capital punishment and demanded life imprisonment to the accused in the gang-rape case.

National shame

Joining mourners, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said: “Let us ensure that perpetrators of this and all similar crimes get exemplary punishment, that all the laws related to violence against women are reviewed and amended, that the law and order machinery and the criminal justice system is more sensitive and responsive to women, that all the systemic flaws which make such incidents possible are corrected. This is also a moment of national shame.”

AAP leaders including Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Yogendra Yadav and Gopal Rai, attended the gathering at Jantar Mantar with their mouths covered with black bands.

“Some structural changes are urgently needed in the system and gender-just laws required to be strengthened. Also, the laws to deal with rape victims are not good enough,” said Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association.

Changes

Meanwhile, the CPM criticised the government and the police for failing to prevent the crime and asked the government to adopt changes demanded by women’s organisations.  
“It is essential for the government at the Centre and in the states to put into place pending measures to prevent violence against women which have been demanded by women’s organisations and the Left parties and which the government has failed to accept and implement.” said the CPM Politburo in a statement.

Govt to create awareness

People’s demand for making rape punishable by capital punishment may not find support in the government. The government may right now concentrate more on gender-sensitisation and providing for a safe environment to women than going for such punishments which does not conform to modern jurisprudence.

The legal changes will certainly occur to make rape laws stringent, but it may not go to any extreme as far as the form of the punishment.It may include increasing minimum punishment from 7 years to 10 years or more and also, on widening the ambit of the crime .

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