22 March, 2007

A delegation from AIDWA, comprising its General Secretary, Sudha Sundararaman, Vice President, Pramila Pandhe, Legal Convenor, Kirti Singh and Asst. Secretary Ashalata met the Home Minister, Shri Shivraj Patil and submitted a memorandum requesting that the introduction of Criminal Law Amendments to deal with child sexual abuse, and to incorporate substantive and procedural sections in other forms of sexual assault, eve teasing etc should be speeded up, and the Bill should be placed in Parliament at an early date.

The memorandum highlighted the following points:

The Criminal Law Amendment Bill which remodels the laws relating to rape and sexual assault is based on the 172nd Report of the Law Commission on India suggested necessary amendments to the law relating to rape, molestation and eve-teasing, etc in the IPC< CRPC, and the Indian Evidence Act. These amendments are necessary as the definition of rape does not address forced oral and anal penetration, or penetration by objects or parts of the body which often occur in the case of child rape. This is in accordance with international legal standards, and the definition by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The Bill introduces various forms of child sexual abuse, and forms of sexual assault like incest and protracted sexual assault and offences like stalking which are not even recognized or defined in the IPC.

The offence of molesting a minor or inviting counselling or inciting a minor to touch with a sexual purpose has been defined as a separate offence with a higher punishment. The bill redefines molestation as unlawful sexual contact and does away with patriarchal provision in Sec.345 IPC which punishes sexual assault only if it is with the intention of outraging the modesty of a woman. The offence of eve-teasing has also been redefined.

The Bill suggests amendments relating to police investigations, medical examinations, videotaping of evidence and giving of evidence in a women- sensitive court environment. Changes in the Evidence Act for proper interpretation of a child’s evidence have been suggested.

The Minister received the delegation and reiterated that the Govt. was well aware of the importance of this legislation He said that the procedure for evolving a Bill, with necessary amendments, had already begun and that the attempt was to introduce it as soon as possible.