“I Know of a few judges who have asked their Chief Justices to consider removing all female employees and not appoint any female interns,” said Additional Solicitor General of India, Indira Jaising in her speech at the UN public lecture on the occasion of International Day to End Violence against Women, held at Teen Murti Bhawan Monday.
During the 30-minute lecture on the progress made in the year since the December 16 gangrape incident, Jaising discussed the various changes in the law and recent allegations of sexual assault against a retired Supreme Court judge and a senior journalist.
While giving details of the changes in the criminal law and the “significant achievement” and “episodic shift” through the redefinition of rape and sexual assault, the senior lawyer also delivered a scathing critique of the “institutional bias” in the substantive, procedural an methodological aspects of the law dealing with violence against women.
“In both these cases we see a failure of institutional responses,” said Jaising, adding that an employer was “under the obligation” to bring an offence related to sexual assault or harassment to the notice of the police on receiving information of such an offence.
When asked to explain the issue of responsibility of the employer, the lawyer also said there was a need to identify institutions which could be made responsible for implementing the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act.
“There is a need to identify the various points of attrition and guard against the inevitable backlash,” said Jaising, adding that the harassment and biases faced by women in reporting such incidents and then the trial process was the reason why so many victims chose to not prosecute in such cases. The ASG said the legal aid system also needed to be strengthened to provide better representation and support to the victims.