Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Justice Jagdish Sharan Verma Commission: Nalsar University suggests that "medical rape" be criminalised

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 8: NALSAR University of Law has recommended against
imposition of death penalty for the crime of rape and emphasized on
‘real consent’ of victim in determining rape.

NALSAR submitted a paper to Justice Jagdish Sharan Verma Commission,
(with two members Mrs Leila Seth and Mr Gopal Subrahmanian),
constituted after recent Delhi gang rape incident, to suggest changes
in laws to provide better security to women.

The University of Law pleaded for legal reforms besides some community
oriented changes such as making safe public spaces available for women
with freedom of dress and neighbourhood policing. The paper opposed
blaming victims for rape.

According to Prof Madabhushi Sridhar of NALSAR, the paper from the
university reminded the need for immediate health care response
systems, especially trauma care for the victim, which should be
independent of the investigative and judicial process, yet be mandated
by law as a non-negotiable.

It suggested expansion of definition of rape, from present limited
scope of peno-vaginal penetration of a female by a male, to include
penetration by any body part or object of a person of any sex. NALSAR
recognized a need to extend ‘sexual assault’ to other sexualized forms
of violence such as molestation. It laid stress on the need to
consider whether there real consent of victim.

Strongly recommending criminalization of ‘marital rape’, the NALSAR
paper said that the marriage should not mean all time consent to
husband for sexual intercourse.
The Law University has also sought criminalization of medical rape,
which is permitted by legal exceptions facilitating the infamous
‘two-finger’ test in medical investigation. Relying on such a test was
criticized as another rape of the victim.

The Juvenile Justice Act 2000 is the result of deep research and study
of jurisprudence and experience of various countries. The Act follows
universal standards of juvenile justice and NALSAR did not recommend
that this legislation be changed to reduce the age of juvenile from 18
to 16, because a 17-year young person was involved in ghastly gang rape.

He said the NALSAR supported introduction of new provisions in law
dealing with aggravated forms of rape, perpetuating power structures
and hierarchies including caste, class and religious dominance. NALSAR
recommended punishing rape committed by person who is known to victim
with rigorous punishment of not less than 10 years.

It has recommended speedy adoption of the sexual harassment at
workplace bill and also punishing refusal to register a crime as
dereliction of the duty as an independent offence introducing command
responsibility.

Another significant suggestion was about safe walk and safe rides as
service that can be effective in university campuses. Law enforcement
along with the university should set up a system wherein students can
phone a hotline seeking dispatch walking buddies to accompany that
student from a place to destination.

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