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Mar 02, 2013 at 05:51pm IST

Bank for women mere tokenism if unaccompanied by social change: Justice JS Verma

Aligarh: Former Chief Justice of India JS Verma, who headed a panel that examined laws on crimes against women, on Saturday said in the absence of meaningful social change, measures like the proposed special bank for women were merely tokenism in quest for securing gender justice in the country.

Delivering the third annual KP Singh Memorial Lecture at Aligarh Muslim University, Verma referred to the proposal to set up a women bank announced by Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday during his budget speech and said that "such tokenism will not deliver if it is not backed by a complete change in mindset, both in government and in civil society as a whole".

The former chief justice had led the three-member panel that looked into laws on crimes against women in the aftermath of the December 16 Delhi gangrape incident which had sparked massive protests. "In any society, the essence of justice is fairness. The plain truth is that civil society cannot escape its responsibility towards fostering genuine gender justice in our homes," Verma said.

Bank for women mere 'tokenism': Justice JS Verma

'The plain truth is that the society cannot escape its responsibility towards fostering genuine gender justice in our homes,' Verma said.

The panel had recommended tougher laws to check crimes against women but the former chief justice was of the opinion that "no amount of alteration in the legal system will deliver unless it is supported by the sanction of society". Verma said that "if the existing laws and guidelines for governance had been fully implemented, the ghastly rape which took place in the national capital on December 16 would not even have taken place".

But according to Verma, the silver lining is that the Delhi incident sparked "such an intense reaction, particularly amongst the youth, that the present movement for securing gender justice is ultimately going to reach its logical conclusion".

Referring to "absence of sensitivity" over crimes against women in certain quarters, Verma took a dig at the utterances of some "so called godmen" in the wake of the Delhi rape. Verma said that the reactions coming from the upper layers of society were patently "absurd" and stark examples of a "biased, patriarchal approach".

He said that even some top politicians had displayed the same "biased and flawed" approach by describing rape victims as "zinda laash" or living dead. That, he said, was a telling pointer as to the mindset of society.

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