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New rape law: Opposition divided, women's groups upset

February 02, 2013 22:22 IST

The ordinance on sexual violence against women has evoked a mixed response with main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party welcoming it but Communist Party of India-Marxist and several women's groups opposed it, attacking the government for doing "injustice" to the Justice Verma Committee recommendations.

BJP welcomed the ordinance providing for tough punishment, including death sentence, saying it supported strict laws but wanted improvements in policing to ensure safety of women.

"The BJP is in support of strict laws. In Parliament, we will elaborate our views. For the security of women there should be genuine and effective law. But good policing and good governance is equally important," spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said, adding the BJP was supportive of all effective measures to deal with crime against women.

However, the CPI-M attacked the government for violating democratic norms by bringing the ordinance a few weeks ahead of the Parliament session and said it opposed the measure "on both procedural as well as substantive grounds."

"The ordinance has done injustice to the Verma Committee report and appears to be a diversion from the serious issues raised of state culpability," including on issues like inclusion of armed forces in the ambit of criminal law.

The CPI(M) said the ordinance had "rejected" the panel's recommendations on issues like making rape a gender specific crime in the law, on increasing the punishment to public servants guilty of dereliction of duty, of increasing the punishment and guaranteed compensation for victims of acid attacks and was "highly selective" about other suggestions.

In the same vein, the All India Democratic Women's Association and eight other women's bodies too objected to the "selective and arbitrary approach" of the Government to the recommendations.

"The present piecemeal and fragmented ordinance can only serve to sabotage the intention of providing recourse to victims of sexual violence," it said.

The women's organisations demanded a review of ordinance by adopting a "more comprehensive" and holistic approach to the Verma Committee's report.

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