New Delhi, India
Pranab Mukherjee, President of India
Chief Justice of India, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India
The gang-rape of a 23-year-old student in a moving bus on the night of December 16 in the capital city of Delhi has triggered anger, outrage and shock amongst every citizen this country.The National Crime Records Bureau records 572 rapes reported from Delhi for the year 2011. This year 635 rapes had already been reported as of December 15, 2012, Rape is not a problem that afflicts Delhi alone. In recent months, we have seen a rising crime graph against women being reported from virtually every corner of the country including Haryana, Kerala and Bangalore.Each time a rape is reported, civil society reacts with anger and outrage, which unfortunately dies down and is forgotten, until the next time. The question to ask: what is the inflexion point? At what stage do we say collectively and in one voice: Enough.
Many solutions have been offered in the light of this particular gang-rape and in the past. Some of these include:
1. The setting up of fast track courts (as in Rajasthan recently) to ensure speedy trials.
2. The imposition of maximum, exemplary sentence.
3. The immediate clearing of all pending cases involving crimes against women.
4. Immediate training and sensitisation of police force to crimes against women, including domestic violence, molestation and sexual assault.
5. The immediate passage of pending bills that seek to protect women, including the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill 2012 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012
6. Consultations with the Ministry of Human Resources to see how best to address the issue of sensitising boys through the school curriculum.
7. National-level, open consultations involving civil society and other stake-holders on how best to tackle the growing misogyny and hostility against women as well as rising crimes against them.
8. Ensuring safe public transport for all citizens by installing CCTVs and conducting due diligence of employees including bus drivers, cleaners etc.
Despite having so many women in positions of political leadership, a survey by TrustLaw found India to be ranked as the worst country in the world for women. At a time when women are increasingly claiming their rightful share of half the sky and asserting their autonomy and independence, the rising crimes against them are conducted with absolute impunity by criminals who have no fear of the law.
We are writing to you in the hope that you will direct government and judiciary to take special note of the escalation of gender violence and work together on a priority basis to implement the measures detailed above.
Lack of gender justice, lack of fear of the law, police and judicial apathy, failure of governance and shrinking public spaces is a matter of grave concern, not just for women but for every citizen of this country.
More than 40 leaders from New Zealand faith communities have released a joint statement on family violence. It includes that the faith leaders commit their communities to:
- Accept our responsibility to stand up for our children, women and families.
- Refuse to tolerate violence within our families or communities or turn a blind eye to it.
- Strive to provide places of safety and nurture for the children and families of our community.
- Encourage our communities to report family violence, hold perpetrators accountable and provide support for victims.
- Ensure that our staff are trained to respond safely to family violence and are well supported with appropriate policies and resources.
- Partner with community organisations to ensure that families experiencing violence are referred appropriately and we will advocate with government for policies and resources to address family violence.
Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills helped to bring the group together. He said the initiative sent an important message because men often used religious scriptures to justify violence.
“In my practice [as a children’s doctor] I still see parents who use their faith as justification for men, particularly men, hitting their wives and parents hitting their children. They claim it’s sanctioned by their faith and that it’s their right,” he said.
“I know that the faiths don’t condone or believe that, so what the statement does is it draws a line under that. It says in the most public way possible that no faith in New Zealand condones violence towards women or children.