Addressing the 16th Meeting of the National Integration Council here, Shinde said: "The first relates to the safety and security of women. As you all know, women not only constitute fifty percent of our population and have an equal role to play in the development of this country, but they also remain the main foundation of an egalitarian and dignified society. No country can progress unless they treat their women with respect."
"Unfortunately, we continue to read about heinous crimes committed on our women. The statistics on crimes against women reveal an increasing trend in the last three years. The brutal rape and attack on a young girl in Delhi last year shocked the conscience of the nation," he added.
Asserting that the Government of India took a major initiative to amend the criminal law to make the punishment for such offences more stringent, Shinde said: "The judiciary also took steps to fast track the prosecution of the criminals and the judgment in the matter was pronounced recently. We hope that this example will serve as a deterrent."
"Nevertheless, we need to discuss what further action needs to be taken by the society so that we can deal with the root cause of discrimination and denigration of women. We will also need to change the attitude of the society. As more and more opportunities are seized by the young women of this country for their economic and social development in our growing economy, we will have to ensure that this does not lead to friction in the society," he added.
Speaking on the issue of the continued discrimination against SC/STs in the country, Shinde said: "The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in India have been subjected to indignity, marginalization and neglect through ages. In spite of affirmative action provided for in the Constitution, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes have still not been integrated fully into the society. On the other hand, they continue to be subjected to atrocities."
"In the last three years, the statistics on the subject reveal an increasing trend in cases of atrocities committed against these classes. There is an attitude of indifference in even prosecuting the cases that have been registered under the stringent Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act," he said.
"The disturbing fact is that the rate of conviction in these cases is very poor. Various pretexts are taken recourse to and justice denied. Unless those committing the atrocities are punished, there will be no deterrence for the people who perpetrate such crimes. This forum may like to discuss the hurdles that still act as barriers for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes to catch up with the rest of the society, live in a dignified manner and become equal partners in national development," he added.
--ANI (Posted on 23-09-2013)