Women's groups to stage protests on February 21

Against conversion of an ordinance on crime against women into a law

Women’s organisations on Monday announced a demonstration before Parliament on February 21, the opening day of the Budget session, in protest against conversion of an ordinance on crime against women into a law.

They demanded a comprehensive law based on the Justice Verma committee’s recommendation. “The ordinance systematically overturns and rejects every recommendation of the Justice Verma committee that seeks to safeguard women’s autonomy and undo the deeply-entrenched gender bias, end the impunity enjoyed by powerful rapists and ensure accountability on part of the police,” said Kavita Krishnan, leader of the All India Progressive Women’s Association.

“By making it possible for men to file cases of rape against women, it has played a cruel joke. The ordinance ensures protection to politicians, police, Army officers and bureaucrats,” the women activists alleged.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hoped for a smooth passage of the ordinance.  “The recommendations of the Justice J S Verma committee have resulted in the promulgation of an ordinance, amending and strengthening the criminal law to deal with sexual offences against women. It is our hope that Parliament will urgently pass the necessary legislation to enact a comprehensive law in this regard,” the prime minister said on Monday.

He was addressing a ceremony to confer the Indira Gandhi Prize on Ila Bhatt, noted social worker and founder of SEWA.

President Pranab Mukherjee also stressed on affirmative actions. “We must strengthen the systems and processes that facilitate women to take control and claim ownership of their lives. To lend true meaning to empowerment, we have to expand their freedom of choice,” Mukherjee said.

The activists also informed that a petition with signatures of 20,000 people from across the world, demanding prohibition of the two-finger test for rape, has been submitted to the home minister, law minister, women and child minister, health and family welfare minister, as well as the UN special rapporteur on violence against women.

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