New Delhi, Feb 2: Women's groups and political parties should listen to Kiran Bedi and should not oppose the proposed ordinance approved by the Union cabinet to change criminal laws to deter crimes against women.
Few women groups and political parties on Saturday urged President Pranab Mukherjee not to sign the ordinance. Human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover said, "The ordinance is complete betrayal of the people's faith." She said that women organisations were alarmed to see the ordinance as it ignored many recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee. "We are alarmed by the ordinance content. We do not see any recommendation of the Verma Committee in the ordinance," Vrinda Grover said. "The ordinance is a trick to sideline Justice Verma report," she said.
Vrinda Grover and women's groups she is talking about are adviced to listen Kiran Bedi's assessment of the situation. Kiran Bei, who has been part of the government and now an activist, is speaking about plain and practical points in current Indian democracy.
She is right when she says the ordinance is the beginning of a long journey. Kiran Bedi is also right when she said on Saturday that the government needs to give a holistic response to the society on Justice Verma committee's recommendations
"Justice Verma committee is not only about the law. There is a lot before the law and there is a lot after the law. I think the government needs to give a holistic response to the society on Justice Verma committee's recommendations. It concerns police reforms, it concerns judicial reforms, it concerns electoral reforms. I think what the people of this country demand of this government is a holistic response," said Bedi.
"It's a beginning made, but it's a very long way to go because Justice Verma (Committee's) recommendations is a holistic correction. A politician involved in crime, a person in uniform involved in crime and then police reforms as such. I think this is a beginning. I hope this is not an intention for people to say we have done it and that's it. I think what this country is demanding is a holistic response because Justice Verma Committee is a very holistic way at looking at crime prevention," she added.
However, Vrinda Grover is focusing on armed forces atrocities, which needs to dealt in more mature manner. According to her the ordinance remained silent on Armed Forces Special Powers Act. "Justice Verma Committee targeted the impunity of family, policemen, Army officers, and a bureaucrats. But the government went soft on that. Why are the recommendations on AFSPA not accepted. It's completely scandalous what the government has done."
On the other hand the opposition BJP and Left say the ordinance is not tough enough.CPM leader Brinda Karat said the government has ignored the main recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee. "We do not approve of this ordinance. The ordinance has ignored the main recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee. The ordinance is an attempt to divert attention from the main questions being raised in the Justice Verma Committee report," Karat said.
In fact, the women's groups should be angry with the government for having gone beyond the recommendation of the Verma Committee by providing for death for rapists. The Verma Committee had considered the demand for death for rapists, but had rejected it, as majority of women's groups had opposed it.
But the these women's groups should not any reason to complain as the ordinance has enhanced the maximum punishment for convicted rapists from the current seven years to 20 years or the rest of the rapist's natural life. It also empowers women against sexual harassment. As the ordinance seeks to replace word 'rape' with 'sexual assault', acts like groping, cat-calling and stalking can be punished with stiff sentences.
Kiran Bedi is on right path as we have just began a long journey in tackling crimes against women.