Explained: Why Women’s Rights Activists Criticize Maharashtra Bills Against Sex Offenses

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR, Edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai |

Updated: December 15, 2020 3:23:10 PM

One of the Bill will be implemented as Shakti Law, 2020.

Two bills vacated by the Maharashtra Cabinet are expected to be expected in the Legislative Assembly last week during the two-day Winter Session, which began on Monday (December 14th).

But the Bills – The Maharashtra Shakti Bill, 2020, and The Special Court and Machinery for the Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Penal Law, 2020 – which improve punishment for violence against women and children, and include the death penalty for certain crimes, have been criticized by prominent women rights defenders for being “severe” and “ Anti-women “.

Who are the individuals and groups opposing the two Bills?

The letter sent to Maharashtra Prime Minister Uddhav Thackeray, against the two Bills, has 92 signatories, including women’s and children’s rights groups, lawyers, activists, academics and LGBT rights activists.

The signatories include senior activist Indira Jaising, lawyers Veena Gowda and Susan Abraham, lawyer and child rights activist Mahrukh Adenwalla, activist Ulka Mahajan, law professor Dr. Asha Bajpai, and faculty members of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

Members of organizations such as the curious feminist LGBT collective LABIA based in Mumbai, Akhil Bharatiya Janwadi Mahila Sangathana, a forum for women on rights Awaaz-e-Niswan, and a Forum Against Repression of Women, are among the signatories.

What are their objections?

In their letter to Thackeray, the signatories said the two Bills – framed under the Andhra Pradesh Disha Law, 2019 – should be discussed with lawyers, activists and academics working on women’s issues before they were approved by the state. Cabinet.

An amendment was proposed to Section 375 (rape) of the IPC, to add an “explanation,” which says that in cases where parties are adults and their behavior suggests there was “consent or implied consent,” will constitute consent. . This, the activists say, “leads to the patriarchal construction of women’s consensus and behavior.”

Consensual sex is very often used as a defense of defendants in cases of rape – and with such an explanation enshrined in law, proving rape will be impossible, they say.

Again, Section 12 of The Special Courts and Machinery for the Implementation of Shakti Act, 2020, will punish the registration of false complaints. This, according to the signatories, “perpetuates the patriarchal notions of seeing women with suspicion as unworthy to be believed” – and will prevent victims from reporting sexual offenses.

The signatories said existing laws cover offenses such as intimidation of women through electronic media or punishment for civil servants who do not help an investigation. But these, they said, are nuisance and effective only for making a political statement. 📣 Follow Explicit Explained in Telegram

But why is there opposition to a speedy delivery of justice – 15 days for an inquiry and one month for a trial – as has been proposed?

According to those opposed to the two Bills, this time frame will not be enough to gather all the evidence – and it will become an excuse for police not to conduct a proper investigation.

Also, a speedy investigation and trial, they said, is likely to lead to a misconduct. “Neither the police nor the courts have the infrastructure to comply with these timeframes and the same will result in only unfair trials and more acquittals,” they wrote.

And what is the argument to oppose the hanging of perpetrators of sex crimes against women?

While the new law will involve strengthening punishment for crimes of rape, gang rape and penetrating sexual assault of children, women’s rights activists say this will be harmful.

In several offenses of rape of adult women or under the Sex Offenses Protection of Children Act (POCSO), the perpetrators are family members. If the crime becomes punishable by death, many victims may not find support from their families, which will result in the crime not being reported.

In addition, it would endanger the lives of victims as seen in some cases when the perpetrators killed the rape victim if murder and rape both attract the same punishment.

This sends a “wrong and deadly message” to rapists, the signatories said. “The message it sends is that after an incident like rape her life is as good as it is over; she is as good as dead,” they wrote. They also stressed that activists and scholars on women’s and children’s rights have repeatedly stated, that the death penalty reduces both the reporting of sexual offenses and of conviction rates.

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