Is It Enough: Civil Services Mentor Magazine May 2013

Is It Enough

The Union Cabinet on 14 March 2013 cleared a Bill providing
for severe punishment for rape, acid attack, stalking and voyeurism more to the
point reducing the age of consent for sex to 16 years. The bill which was named
the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 lowers the age of consent for sex from
18 to 16 years with making of rape as a gender-specific offence under which men
only can be charged for it. The Bill is brought in line with the Indian Penal
Code, but at variance with the Child Protection Act, 2012, which raised it to

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 commonly known as the
anti-rape bill came into force on, April 3 after President Pranab Mukherjee put
his signature into the bill. The bill has been termed by the government as the
“single pill” to address all ills (crimes) against women. But, the question is
whether the bill can protect women in India. Is having a bill enough to end
crimes against women? Or, better implementation of laws, more sensitive police,
civil society and change in mind set can tackle the issue of crime against
women? There were agreements and disagreements, but finally the Criminal Law
(Amendment) Act 2013 or “anti-rape law” has been passed by Upper House of
Parliament (Rajya Sabha) on, March 21. Earlier, the Bill was passed by the Lok
Sabha (Lower House) on, March 19. Once President Pranab Mukherkee ratifies it
and issues a notification, the Bill will become a law. The need for a strict law
to deal with sex crimes against women was
felt after the brutal gang-rape and murder of a
23-year-old Paramedical student in a moving bus in the
national capital on December 16,
last year. The victim died 13 days after the
incident in a Singapore hospital on December 29, last
year. The brutality of the crime shocked
the nation. Indians protested on the streets to
demand better safety
measures for women and strict laws to punish the
culprits. Under public pressure, Congress-led UPA
government at the Centre formed Justice JS
Verma panel to come up with strict laws to arrest
crime against women.

The Cabinet approved it, before it
was put to test on the Parliament. The Bill got nod
from almost all the political parties,
including main opposition party Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) with minor
disagreements on some of the provisions in the
Bill. “We have tried to bring in a strong law, which
is prowomen and will act as a deterrent,”
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told
lawmakers in the upper house of
Parliament which approved the bill Thursday.
“Such legislation has come to India for the first time
and the parliament has given its

It will create a revolution in the
country,” he added. Some of the key points in
anti-rape Bill 1. The law maintains life imprisonment
for rape as the maximum sentence, yet sets
down the death penalty for repeat offenders
and those whose victims are left in a
“vegetative state”. 2. It also expands the meaning of
rape to include penetration of the mouth,
anus, urethra or vagina with the penis or any other object without
consent. 3. It also defines stalking and voyeurism as crimes with punishments up
to seven years. 4. Gang rape has been recognised as an offence, while sexual
harassment has been redefined to include unwelcome advances with sexual
overtures and showing pornography without consent. 5. The age of consent of sex
has been kept at 18. 6. The law also punishes police and hospital authorities
with imprisonment of up to two years if they fail to register a complaint or
treat a victim.


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