Officers seek greater role for women in rape trials

FP

The doctor who examines a rape victim as well as the judges and prosecutors in a rape case should only be women, a meeting of top officials of Centre and state governments has suggested.

Last week, the annual meeting of chief secretaries and DGPs on internal security had detailed discussions on how to prevent rape and ensure speedy justice to rape victims. Among the many suggestions which emerged included setting up of fast-track courts, creation of a national data base of sexual offenders and amendments in law, including the Juvenile Justice Act, according to a Home Ministry statement.

The meeting stressed on increased role for women officers at every stage of the medical and judicial process in a rape case. "The recording of information (statement) should only be by women and if necessary by audio/video recording. Medical practitioner who examines a rape victim must be a woman. Police protection for the victim till the trial ends should be given," the statement said, quoting some of the suggestions made during the meeting.

The officers also agreed that fast-track courts were necessary and needed to be supported. The court procedure should be such that it prevents humiliation and character assassination of the victim.

The officers also suggested that judges and prosecutors involved in a rape trial be women. "The prosecutor should be of the choice of the victim. Discretion in grant of bail for heinous offences should be removed," were some of the other suggestions.

The officers were in agreement on decreasing the age of juvenile criminals from 18 to 16 years and a grading system based on the magnitude of the offence committed. Punishment for gangrape must be higher, they stressed, according to the statement.

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