Tamil Nadu to bring sexual assaults under Goondas Act

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Chennai, Jan 1: Raising hopes of women in Tamil Nadu as year 2013 dawned, the state's chief minister J Jayalalithaa took a significant step and announced a 13-point action plan to ensure women's safety and prevent incidents of sexual harassment.

The 13-point plan in the year ending 13, seeks harsher punishment for rape and Jayalalithaa said her government would request the Centre to make necessary changes in the law to provide death penalty and chemical castration to those involved in such crimes.

"The Centre will be requested to amend the laws to ensure the maximum punishment of death penalty and chemical castration for those responsible for rapes. The offence should also be made non-bailable," the Chief Minister said as she expressed grief over the death of the 23-year-old Delhi gangrape victim.

J Jayalalithaa

In TN, steps would be taken to amend Goondas Act and set up Fast Track Mahila Courts in each district to investigate sexual assault cases. Efforts would be taken to bring sexual assault cases under the purview of Goondas Act as such incidents have the potential to disturb peace. "The Goondas Act will be amended," Jayalalithaa said.

To send clear message on strong measures incidents of sexual assault will be treated as a grave crime and top police officials would probe them.

In order to ensure stress-free movement of women, close-circuit television (CCTV) sets would be installed in all public buildings to identify those who trouble women. Police personnel in plainclothes would be deployed at market places and women's colleges to ensure safety of women.

Besides meeting the entire medical expenses of women who suffered sexual assault, efforts would also be made for their rehabilitation, the Chief Minister said.

Other immediate steps would be about setting up of women helpline, engaging women lawyers and hearing of sexual assault cases on daily basis to ensure speedy justice. Every effort would be made to ensure that women feel safe and move about fearlessly in Tamil Nadu, assured the chief minister.

TN already has well defined laws on eve-teasing and recently the Supreme Court while dealing with a case under TN Act had ordered certain measures, and these have been incorporated in the 13-point plan.

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