Meet on women’s safety seeks changes in anti-rape law

Calling for drastic changes in the anti-rape law to make it more effective, top women officers, professionals and women activists on Tuesday sought speedy justice for rape victims through fast track courts, major changes in the process of medical examination of victims and black-listing of rapists. Significantly, they laid stress on removing body parts one by one — as done during Shivaji era — instead of capital punishment for rapists. Some of the participants argued that since rape is a barbaric crime, it deserves barbaric punishment.

These strong reactions emanated at an open discussion on safety and security of women organised by Jijai Mahila Pratishthan at Narayan Meghaji Lokhade Hall in Pimpri. Social activist Jyoti Pathania presided over the meeting. The suggestions made at the meeting will be sent to government-appointed three-member commission headed by former Chief Justice J S Verma that will relook and examine the present laws.

Speaking on the occasion, Pathania said rapists should be hanged in public. "Due to lack of evidence, 99 per cent of rapists go scot-free." She said there was no fear of police among the perpetrators of the heinous crime. "Therefore, the police should first improve its image. Rape incidents are being reported from every corner of the country. How can you expect other cities to be safe if the national capital is not safe," she asked.

"The statement of the victim should be recorded only once and the cases should be addressed in fast track courts," she added.

PCMC medical officer Dr Kamal Yadav said,"The medical examination of the victim is conducted after a rape complaint is filed. If the complaint is registered late, crucial evidence available through medical examination is lost. Therefore, police should register the complaint at the earliest so that medical examination can be conducted immediately after the crime. A black-list of rapist should be prepared and women counsellors should be appointed to counsel the victims," she said.

Police sub-inspector Shaileja Sawant said if the victims are not coming forward to get the complaint registered, their acquaintance should approach police.

"Such victims need moral support. If the victim is not ready for the medical examination, doctors should convince her," said Sawant.

"While recording the statement of the victim, police ask various questions. The questions are not intended to embarrass the victim, but to ensure that proper complaint is registered so that would help in convicting the rapist," she added.

Corporator Seema Savale, also president of Jijai Mahila Pratishthan, said,"Only women police officers should record the statement of victims. There should be separate courts for such incidents. In rape cases, the verdict should be out in 90 days. Major changes should be made in the medical examination process and no bail should be granted to rapists."

'Don't spare a juvenile'

Law student Nikita Kamtekar who articulated her views forcefully at the meet said, "If the rapist is a juvenile, it does not mean he should get less punishment. A strong action should be taken against those trying to destroy evidence in such cases. The statement of rape victims should be recorded in presence of voluntary organisations."

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