Women’s rights activists welcomed as Indian cabinet cleared anti-rape bill

March 16, 2013 | By More

The anti-rape bill — Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 — which provides for stringent punishment for crimes against women, including rape, was cleared by the union cabinet on Thursday.

New Delhi: Women’s rights activists welcomed the anti-rape bill cleared by the union cabinet, terming it a step forward for women’s rights in India and urging political parties to enact it into law.

“The approval by the union cabinet of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 on March 14 signals a step forward for women’s rights in India. We call upon the political parties who profess to stand up for women’s rights to show this in their deeds, and ask parliament to enact this bill into law,” a statement from a group of women’s rights activists said.

Various women’s rights organisations also said the bill seeks to protect society from the scourge of sexual violence.

“This is not a bill against men, it is a bill against criminals, it is a bill from which all citizens stand to gain peace of mind and respite from the mindless violence that stalks us. As representatives of women’s rights groups, human rights groups, lawyers and activists from across the country who have worked for decades towards reforming laws on rape and sexual [crimes], we welcome several provisions in the draft Criminal Law [Amendment] Bill 2013,” Farah Naqvi, a women’s rights activist, said.

The activist also welcomed the move to lower the age for consensual sex from 18 to 16 years.

“The age of consent, which has been 16 years under the Indian Penal Code since 1983, has been retained at that. This is not a moral endorsement of teenage sexual activity. It is an acknowledgement that Indian society does not wish to treat our young men and women who might engage in consensual sexual acts as criminals and rapists,” the statement said.

Some women activists also mentioned that crimes such as stalking that destroy women’s lives, and can lead to their rape and brutal murder, are included in the bill.

Associated press journalist for Human rights Observers – Khizer Hayat, reports from the region.

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