Women’s groups rose up in arms in Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow on Saturday to mark their protest against the anti-rape ordinance being sent by the Union cabinet to President Pranab Mukherjee for approval.
At a joint press conference on behalf of several women activists groups, activist and National Advisory Committee member Farah Naqvi told media persons: “We have appealed to the President to withhold the promulgation of the proposed ordinance in its existing form.”
Naqvi was in Lucknow in connection with a three-day festival and conclave convened by ‘Sanarkatda’, a popular women’s empowerment group led by Madhvi Kukreja. Several women groups from across the country are participating in the event.
She said, “We wonder why the government was trying to push an ordinance when there was ample time to discuss and debate the issue in Parliament to bring a concrete law to punish those indulging in rape.”
She felt, “The ordinance blatantly ignores several key recommendations made by Justice Verma committee that had taken care to incorporate certain key points raised by various women activist groups. These included a flat ‘no’ to the provision for death penalty, which most women groups felt would further bring down convictions and fail to serve the larger objective of the punishment that rapists deserve.”
In a memorandum sent to the President, the women’s groups declared, “We want certainty of conviction rather than severity of punishment.”
Naqvi sought to point out that “neither the Verma panel nor the parliamentary committee constituted in this regard has favoured death penalty”.
She felt, “It was therefore important that the entire issue be discussed threadbare by the people’s representatives in parliament, thereby ensuring a proper democratic process for the formulation of a concrete stringent law against the heinous crime.”