We, the Representatives of the Women’s Movement and all organizations working for women and child rights from across the length and breadth of the country, are both deeply concerned and horrified at the growing and repeated incidences of sexual violence and extreme brutality being inflicted on girls, not to speak of it happening thrice in succession in different parts of the country within a span of few days.
While each of us is filled with distress and shame, we feel the time has also come for us to ask all the Powers that Be whether they believe enough is being done to prevent such dastardly acts on the most vulnerable and hapless categories of the population. The mother of the young victim in Kathua laments that a child who loved meadows and horses has now been abandoned to a lonely grave. Her father says she did not even know the difference between her left and right hand. Nor that of belonging to any particular community or religion.This poignant and heart-wrenching comment stands testimony to the total betrayal by society as a whole, undoubtedly, but in particular by those obligated to protect and nurture young lives. This is best demonstrated by the fact that, despite the detailed FIR filed in the case of the Kathua victim and the statement of the victim and her family naming the perpetrators at Unnao, every step taken thereafter by the concerned authorities has been at best casual, or a wilful obfuscation and sidetracking of the heinous crimes in order to allow the alleged perpetrators to roam free. In the first case, there was even a concerted effort on
the part of the local community to mobilize partisan support from political and legal forces to scuttle the rule of law.
We condemn the widespread impunity that surrounds us and the cynicism combined with contempt and arrogance shown by those in power to the rule of law. In the process, justice delivery has beendeliberately stymied and there is a complete lack of accountability towards the people whom they are supposed to serve. Justice has already been compromised in both case. In the Unnao instance, the victim's father was assaulted so badly that he succumbed to internal injuries, even as his family members continue to live in state of fear of attack.
After the outrage following the Delhi gang rape of December 16, 2012, the Justice J.S.Verma Committee set up by the then government left no stone unturned to define, recast and augment the power of the law to not only prevent violence against women and girls but also address it in the most decisive and efficacious manner, making all duty-bearers punishable under the law for failure to enforce it or ensure timely justice.   This mammoth exercise led by the late Justice Verma and ably assisted by the eminent jurists, the late Justice Leila Seth and Gopal Subramanium, was done in a highly consultative manner bringing together the best legal minds and those who that had been in the forefront of the struggles waged by women in different parts of the country since the early 70’s. Although the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee was legislated, like many other laws passed by the highest lawmakers aimed at affirming the rights of women and girls and preventing the all-pervasive discriminations they face, we find that the executive zeal necessary to take this process forward and translate the law into rights and entitlements of women and girls is missing. Today, the entire law stands compromised in both letter and spirit.
With neither administrative will nor accountability enforced by statutory bodies mandated to do so, we find that the duty bearers, including the police, are guilty of acts of both omission and commission. It is in this context of weak accountability, and clear unwillingness on the part of authorities to provide adequate resource to agencies, empower institutions and build strong partnerships through mutual collaboration, the argument– often made at the highest levels of society and government — for rapists to be given capital punishment sounds hollow. We do not support the call for the death penalty. Instead, we need an urgent evaluation of where the gaps lie in
the implementation of the Criminal (Amendment) Law, 2013 and POCSO, 2012. We condemn the attempts by the leaders of the Bar Association to obstruct the
administration of justice in the Jammu case by preventing the filing of the charge sheet and by obstructing the efforts of the woman lawyer in representing the family. A profession bound by a duty to uphold the rule of law in accordance with the Constitution cannot betray its own calling and aid and abet the breakdown of the rule of law.
The deliberate silences in the media and the careful construction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a person committed to gender justice is particularly disturbing and politically opportunistic. The Prime Minister’s condemnation of the rapists in both cases came far too late, and did not address the endemic failures of state governments ruled by his own party that allowed these crimes to take place. Let us not forget that such rapes, murders and other atrocities are a direct result of the hate mongering and “othering” of minorities, dalits and tribals that is widespread in India today.
We therefore demand that the perpetrators of both these unconscionable brutalities be
brought to justice without any further delay.
1. Aatreyee Sen, Forum for Human Rights and Justice
2. Abhishek Chaudhary, Gurgaon
3. Abhishek Mankotia, Ahmedabad
4. Abhishek Naulakha, Ahmedabad
5. Aditi Khandelwal, Ahmedabad
6. Ajitha K, Anweshi
7. Akhila Sivadas, Delhi
8. Akshaya Ganesh, Ahmedabad
9. Amrita Barua Ahmedabad
10. Amrita Chakraborty, Kolkata
11. Anant Asthana, Child Rights Defender
12. Anoop Kumar Yadav, Mumbai
13. Anuja Gupta, RAHI Foundation
14. Anukriti Dixit, Ahmedabad
15. Anuradha Kapoor, Swayam, Kolkata
16. Aparna Dwivedi, Alliance of Women for Change
17. Archana Dwivedi
18. Arjun Lal,Ahmedabad
19. Arlene Manohar
20. Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM
21. Asha Kaushik, RUWA
22. Ayesha Kidwai, Professor, JNU
23. Chayanika, LABIA – A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Mumbai
24. Chitra Mathur, Ahmedabad
25. D Geetha, Advocate
26. Deepti Sharma, Saheli
27. Divyanshu Daksh, Ahmedabad
28. Dr Mohini Giri, GOS
29. Ferzand Cahn, Delhi
30. Forum Against the Oppression of Women
31. Geetha Nambisan
32. HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, New Delhi
33. Himanshu Singh, Mumbai
34. Himen Doley, Bengaluru
35. Jagori
36. Jhuma Sen Delhi
37. Juhi Jain, Delhi
38. Kalpana Purushottaman
39. Kameshwari Jandhyala, ERU
40. Kamyani Bali Mahabal, feminist and human rights activist Mumbai
41. Kavita Krishnan
42. Kavita Srivastava
43. Kedar Champhekar, Ahmedabad
44. Kishore Kumar
45. Komal Habitat
46. Kruti Shastri, Vadodara
47. Kusha Singh, Ahmedabad
48. Kushagra Singh,Ahmedabad
49. Lalfakzuala Hnamte, Ahmedabad
50. Lara Jesani
51. Leher, New Delhi
52. Madhu Bhushan, Bangalore
53. Madhu Mehra
54. Manisha Gupte, Masum, Pune
55. Manjula Pradeep, Ahmedabad
56. Masooma Ranalvi, WeSpeakOut
57. Meera Khanna, GoS
58. Miguel Das Queah, Child Rights Defender
59. Mihira Sood
60. Milad Thaha,Ahmedabad
61. Mini Mathew
62. Muneeb Ul Lateef Banday, Ahmedabad
63. Nastasia Paul-Gera
64. Nandini Rao
65. Navtej Singh, Delhi
66. Neeta Hardikar
67. Nimish Shah, Vadodara
68. Nimisha Shrivastav, Child Rights Defender
69. Nirantar
70. Nishchal Kutarekar, Kharagpur
71. Nithin Prakash, Ahmedabad
72. Niti Saxena, Lucknow
73. Om Satatkar,Ahmedabad
74. Padma D, Mumbai
75. Pamela Philipose
76. Pawan Anand, Ahmedabad
77. Pawan Rajurkar,Ahmedabad
78. Pravekha Ravichandran,Ahmedabad
79. Preeti Berhguzar, Ahmedabad
80. Preeti Das, Ahmedabad
81. Prerna Subramanian, Gandhinagar
82. Priti Darooka PWESCR International
83. Purnima
84. Purnima Gupta
85. Queerabad, Ahmedabad
86. R Sivakumar, Bengaluru
87. Radhika Kajuria, Delhi
88. Rahul Upadhyay, Gandhinagar
89. Renu Khanna, Sahaj
90. Richa Yadav, Ahmedabad
91. Rimjhim Jain, Forum to Engage Men
92. Ritu Dewan, Vice President, Indian Institute of Labour Economics
93. Rohini Hensman
94. Rosamma Thomas
95. Roselle, YWCA, Goa
96. Roshmi Goswami, Urgent Action Fund-Asia Pacific
97. Ruchi Bhargava
98. S Sreenidhi, Ahmedabad
99. Sabina Martins, Bailanco Saad, Goa
100. Sadhana, Saheli
101. Sakhi, Kerala
102. Saheli
103. Sama
104. Sandeep Nongkynrih, Ahmedabad
105. Sandhya Raju, Centre for Constitutional Rights Research and Advocacy
106. Sanjukta Chakraborty, Ahmedabad
107. Sejal Dand, Ahmedabad
108. Sewang Dorji, Ahmedabad
109. Shahrukh Faquih, Ahmedabad
110. Shakti Shalini, New Delhi
111. Shaman Gupta, Delhi
112. Shruthi Ramachandran
113. Shruti Pandey, Advocate
114. Siddharth Adesara, Ahmedabad
115. Siddharth Mate,Ahmedabad
116. Sindura Ravindra,Ahmedabad
117. Smriti Minocha, Maitri Network
118. Suhas Kolhekar,NAPM
119. Sujata Patel
120. Sunita Sheel, Gen Secretary, Forum for Medical Ethics Society, Mumbai, MH, India; Founding Trustee, Vidhayak Trust, Pune, MH, India.
121. Supriya Jan, Right to Pee Movement
122. Sutapa Majumdar
123. Swagata Raha, Child Rights Defender
124. Swarna Rajagopalan, independent scholar
125. Swayam
126. Syeda Hameed
127. Tanvi Mankodi, Ahmedabad
128. Tejas Patil,Ahmedabad
129. The Prajnya Trust
130. Uma Chakravarti
131. Utsah, Assam
132. Vandana Mahajan
133. Veena Shatrugna
134. Vibhuti Patel
135. Vimala Ramachandran, ERU, Delhi
136. Vrinda Grover