Will Justice Verma panel's recommendations go a long way in ensuring gender justice? Women's rights crusader Kavita Krishnan shared her perspective on this subject with IBNLive readers.
Q. How will you consider cyber stalking as an offence... means if a person sends a friends request to anyone, will you consider it as stalking? Asked by: pc
A. Have you looked up the meaning of stalking? Stalking is repeated unwanted contact in spite of the person having expressly said STOP, hacking of one's private accounts, email threats. We all need to learn to take NO for an answer. 'Tu han kar ya na kar, tu hai meri' is stalking and we all know it.
Q. All laws are good to protect the citizen but it should not be misused as in the case of dowry harassment laws? Asked by: Prathap
A. Dowry laws are underused not misused - and the proof is that women continue to be burnt alive for dowry in large numbers. Wish I would see some more concern about the 'misuse' of in-laws' power over the daughter-in-law, whereby they can kill her, instead of this frenzy over so-called misuse of the dowry law...
Q. Ma'am, it's good that government is responding to the needs of women, but do'nt u think that overpowering of women might disturb the balance in society? Asked by: suneel kumar yadav
A. Is society balanced when men wield power over women, as they do now? What we want is women's equality and rights. Why do men begin to talk about 'unbalance' when women want the balance to be even, not tilted in favour of men?! Is the world fair only when it respects and upholds male privilege and women's subordination?
Q. Laws for theft etc are bailable and non cognizable. Am not saying that stronger laws should not be there but when tough laws are made to simply dismiss fears of misuse is unfair. Asked by: Darshan
A. Laws for murder are not bailable - and there are many cases of false charges of murder. Does that mean we start saying lets do away with the law on murder? Please stop raising the bogey of 'misuse' the minute there is talk of some hope for justice for women! Please think about the terror a woman feels when faced with a stalker. Had we had a law against stalking, Priyadarshini Mattoo might be alive today.
Q. Do you believe that the women's rights is just one part of a grand reprogramming the world needs? Do you think it's time to get back to grand theory than looking at things in a post-structuralist myopic manner and treating every issue as a self-contained one? Asked by: Apurba Saha
A. Look around you Apurba - listen to the slogans girls and boys were raising 'naari mukti naari mukti sabki mukti zindabad' - no myopia there, people are seeing the connections between women's freedom and everyone's freedom, women's subordination and everyone's subordination...
Q. Referring to your answer to emathew. The reason we don't talk about misuse for all laws is that laws for protecting women assume that women are telling the truth and men are lying and hence are more prone to misuse compared to normal laws, don't you complain about misuse of POTA. Asked by: Raj
A. The laws do not assume women are telling the truth - if anything the opposite. Please go through the n number of verdicts that have held women to be lying... See what happend in the Mathura rape case of 1980, where a 16 year old adivasi girl raped in custody by 2 police officers was not given justice because courts held that she was a liar and 'habitiated to sex', and that no rape occurred because no injuries on the men's bodies! In any law, any trial, the testimony of the complainant, male or female, should hold weight if it is overall credible.
Q. Given how govt blocked opposition from having a debate on the issue in Dec 2012, how different is it going to be this time? Asked by: EMathew
A. Well, this time even opposition (BJP etc) are all united with govt against women's freedom and rights... So left to parliament, govt will have an easier time. It's up to us, the people, to ensure that the true opposition continues on the streets! Come join us in reclaiming the Republic on 26 Jan at 2 pm, Mandi House to march to Jantar Mantar in a 'Freedom Parade' for women's freedom and people's freedom!
Q. Without judicial reforms and police reforms, the recommendations would just stay as recommendations? Your thoughts? Asked by: EMathew
A. If we struggle, we can maybe push for some of the recommendations to be implemented. Agreed, we need police and judicial reforms - but who will do those reforms?! Again, we need a movement. No shortcuts.
Q. With Justice Verma panel reiterating the negligence and callous attitude of police and governance what new has it come up with which would help curb the menace? Asked by: Rajan Agarwal
A. What's new is a true shift in paradigm - that's what we women's movement forces feel. For the first time, ever, a committee report is recommending that the laws against sexual violence and the investigative and justice system including medico-legal examination of rape survivors and rape trials - recognise violence from a woman's point of view rather than from the point of view of her 'modesty,' her character etc. Justice Verma report recommends that women's autonomy over her choices and her body be respected and safeguarded; and sexual violence be seen as an invasion of her bodily integrity and dignity. The JVR has also pathbreakingly recognised marital rape, recommended that senior cops be held responsible and punished for rapes in custody by junior cops in police stations etc, and that army officers accused of rape be tried in a civil court of law. All these things are a tribute to the ongoing movement, which widened the lens and raised all these various obstacles women face in achieving justice...
Q. Verma panel does mention stalking and an imprisonment of upto 1 yr. Is this sufficient deterrent in ensuring that the person does not turn violent later on? Asked by: EMathew
A. It's a legitimate apprehension you have. I feel restraining orders are a must, and monitoring of the situation by a sensitive police will be needed, without that the law and punishment alone won't help. Though it's good stalking is recommended to be recognised as a crime.
Q. Does an innocent husband stand ant chance of disproving marital rape allegations. Is it correct to assume that all women are good and all men bad when framing laws? Asked by: Rahul
A. Amazing how so many of the questions are about 'misuse' and 'false' allegations! The removal of exemption of marital rape simply means that we no longer assume women to be the property of men. Men too will and should feel better that their wives are with them by choice - and not because a law 'gives' women into custody of husbands for life. Women must retain the right to autonomy over their bodies in all situations - be it in marriage or any other situation - and that is what the law must respect and recognise.
Q. How could Community policing be increased in metros to reduce violence against women,where it is common to not even know your next door neighbor due to the fast paced life. Asked by: Manish Reddy
A. I am not for community policing (policing is the police's job and we must make police accountable) - but getting to know and support our neighbours is a good idea, and community activities like 'Reclaim the night' walks and neighbourhood watches can well be done even in urban areas ...
Q. Madam, there are men and mothers in law and sisters in law who have seen their lives destroyed by the misuse of anti dowry laws, we are not asking for anything but can't feminists like yourself at least empathize with the women and men at least in urban India who have been victimized for reasons other than dowry Asked by: Avinash
A. All laws can be misused - not just laws meant to protect women. Are there no false accusations of theft and murder? But there is debate about 'misuse' only about laws relating to women - when in fact these laws are underused and many women are unable to avail of protection under these laws.
Q. What penalties does the report mention for the misuse of the law? Asked by: EMathew
A. Why do we always talk about 'misuse' in the context only of laws made for women?! Any and every law can and is misused - that does not mean that we do not need these laws...