Amnesty terms anti-rape ordinance inadequate, opposes death penalty
New Delhi, Feb 12 : Civil rights group Amnesty International today expressed strong reservations about the new law on crime against women promulgated through an ordinance, saying that it fell short of international human rights standards in several ways.
The human rights watchdog called upon legislators not to endorse the related Bill without drastic amendments.
It has strongly opposed the death penalty, and instead called for focusing on reforming the system.
The provisions in the ordinance fail to criminalise the full range of sexual violence with appropriate punishments in accordance with international human rights law, it said.
''It includes vague and discriminatory provisions and introduces capital punishment in some cases of sexual assault. The ordinance also retains effective legal immunity for
members of state security forces accused of sexual violence, harms rather than helps teenagers by increasing the age of consent to sex, and defines ''trafficking'' in a way that might conflate it with adult consensual sex work,'' the
Amnesty International said in a statement here.
According to the rights group some of the definitions incorporated in the ordinance do not appropriately protect women from sexual violence.
''The ordinance retains archaic and discriminatory concepts used to define criminal offenses as ''insults'' or
''outrages'' to womena¬Euro¬ôs ''modesty'' rather than crimes against their right to bodily integrity. This violates
Indiaa¬Euro¬ôs international legal obligations to amend all laws containing gender discriminatory provisions,'' it said.
The human rights group is of the view that the ordinance discriminates against women based on their marital status and denies them equal protection before the law. Under section 375 of the amended Penal Code, wives cannot bring a charge of ''sexual assault'' against husbands except under extremely narrow grounds: where she is ''living separately under a decree of separation or under any custom or usage.''
''India has ratified treaties and supported declarations that uphold the right to sexual autonomy as a matter of women's equality, including the right to decide freely whether to have sex free of coercion, discrimination and violence. Criminal law must provide protection from marital rape under all circumstances,'' the rights groups said.