Crime against women: Pranab signs ordinance

Two days after the Union Cabinet cleared an ordinance to amend the laws dealing with sexual crimes against women, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 was on Sunday promulgated by President Pranab Mukherjee.

The ordinance, which was cleared by the Cabinet on Friday at a special meeting, provides for death sentence to perpetrator of rape if the same leads to death of the victim or leaves her in "persistent vegetative state".

Based on some of the recommendations of the three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma, the ordinance has drawn flak from women rights activists as also many political parties, with the activists accusing the government of doing injustice to the Verma committee recommendations by implementing them in a piecemeal manner.

Among other things, it proposes to replace the word 'rape' with 'sexual assault' to expand the definition of all types of sexual crimes against women, making stalking, voyeurism, indecent gestures like words and inappropriate touch and rape of a woman by her estranged husband while they are separated criminal offences.

Acid attacks on women will also attract longer jail term.

With the ordinance in place, the government intends to withdraw the criminal laws amendment Bill that Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 4 last year since most of its clauses have been incorporated in the ordinance.

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