Apathetic. A failure. The official verdict on India's rape police

Former chief justice calls for stricter enforcement of sexual assault laws and women judges

Delhi

A panel set up in the aftermath of the rape and murder of an Indian student criticised the “apathy” of police and officials as it tabled a series of recommendations designed to tackle sexual assaults on women, including new laws, faster courts and female judges.

J S Verma, a former chief justice of India who headed the panel, said he had been shocked to see the country’s Home Minister patting the chief of the Delhi police on the back in the days following the crime. The very least he should have done, he said, was to have sought an apology for the police’s failure “to protect citizens”.

“Failure of good governance is the obvious root cause for the current unsafe environment, eroding the rule of law and not the want of knee-jerk legislation,” he added, as his panel outlined their report after receiving 80,000 suggestions.

Among the top suggestions were the strict enforcement of sexual assault laws, the appointment of women judges to oversee assault cases, the removal of immunity for soldiers accused of sexual assaults in conflict areas and an effort to make public transport safer.

The panel also recommended that all marriages should be registered in an attempt to finally put an end to the habit of women’s families paying dowries. It also asked the government to halt an invasive and unscientific vaginal test used to determine whether a woman is sexually active.

However, in contrast to the demand of the family of the student who was killed and many of those who joined protests calling on the government to take action, the panel said it did not support the introduction of the death penalty for such offences. It also opposed lowering from 18 to 16, the age at which a suspect ceases to be treated as a juvenile by the law.

“We hope the parliament will take the legislative suggestions given by the committee, and translate these into law,” said the retired chief judge. There was no immediate response from the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, who had established the panel.

Last night, a number of organisations that had submitted suggestions to the panel said they believed it had included most of the major points passed to it.

“Overall, I think we are quite positive,” said Sudha Sundararaman, of the All India Democratic Women’s Association. “We found that most of the suggestions we made have been included in the recommendations, especially in extending the definition of rape and sexual assault.”

Yet there was some scepticism as to what would happen next. India is notorious as a place for holding endless commissions into various issues that then do not get taken up or else are just partly implemented.

“The whole issue is how the government will respond. Will it be taken up and legislated upon,” said Professor Ranjana Kumari, of the Centre for Social Research in Delhi, who was among more than 100 female activists who appeared before the panel.

The handing over of the panel’s recommendations to the government came as the activist group Azzaz.org launches its own report calling on the Indian government to establish a four-year education campaign against rape and sexual assault. Having collected more than 1.1 million signatures, the group said it was essential the government confronted the crime.

The 23-year-old woman was attacked after she and her male companion boarded a bus on 16 December. She suffered widespread injuries and died two weeks later. Six males – five adults and a juvenile – have been arrested. The five men, who have been charged with rape and murder and who face the death penalty, are due to return before a fast-track court today.

Meanwhile, India’s Supreme Court is hearing a petition to have the trial moved out of Delhi.

Morocco moves to change law on marriage

Nearly a year after Morocco was shocked by the suicide of a 16 year-old girl forced to marry her alleged rapist, the government has announced plans to change the penal code to outlaw the traditional practice.

Women’s rights activists have welcomed Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid’s announcement, but said it was only a first step in reforming the law. 

The kingdom’s penal code allows those convicted of “corruption” or “kidnapping” of a minor to go free if they marry their victim. Last March, 16-year-old Amina al-Filali poisoned herself to get out of an abusive marriage to a man she said had raped her. AP

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn