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How Does India Implement Sweeping Bill on Crimes Against Women

Reading last week that India had passed major changes to its law to protect women was important. The debate happened about the same time that the United Nations conference on the Status of Women was occurring in New York.

Reading the UN website we know, "International and regional legal instruments have clarified obligations of States to prevent, eradicate and punish violence against women and girl", so India's actions were both timely and needed.

Now comes the hard part - IMPLEMENTATION. Recalling the words of a senior Indian officials at a meeting at the State Department just prior to a visit to India by President Obama, that it was so difficult to reach into its countryside to implement health programs intended to vaccinate children against diseases. I am now wondering how countries achieve results on urgent problems.

Can a platform like World Pulse help to activate countries to support and galvanize efforts to eliminate gender-based violence? It will be great to see this platform mobilize to help achieve all of the 34 conclusions reached at the recent UN Conference in New York, including:

• Reference to harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation and early and forced marriage, and clear language asserting that custom, tradition or religious considerations should not serve as a basis to condone violence against women and girls.

• Calls for greater protection for specific populations that face heightened risk of violence, such as disabled women and girls, those living with HIV and indigenous women.

• An explicit acknowledgement of the importance of respecting and protecting sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

• Recognition of the fact that domestic violence is the most prevalent form of violence against women and girls, and that men and boys are crucial to preventing such violence.

• Recognition that prevention and response efforts must also address trafficking in persons.

• Calls for a multisector response and an end to impunity

• Calls for the advancement of women's full and equal access to economic resources, including the right to inheritance and to ownership of land.

------------Excerpts from the New York TImes - India Passes Sweeping Bill on Crimes Against Women by NIHARIKA MANDHANA and HEATHER TIMMONS

"NEW DELHI — Less than three months after a New Delhi woman who was gang raped on a moving bus died from her injuries, India’s Parliament passed a comprehensive bill that imposes stronger penalties on men who attack women and criminalizes offenses like stalking and voyeurism.

Citizens, activists and many politicians demanded the government do more to protect women and impose harsher sentences on the men who molest them. Reported rapes in India have risen in recent years, and northern India has witnessed a series of highly publicized gang rapes.

The bill, which amends India’s criminal laws, is intended to deter and punish sexual offenders, including men who stalk and harass women, and to create a more responsive police and judicial system, which is widely criticized as being insensitive when dealing with crimes against women.

It expands the definition of rape, substantially increases the punishment for sex crimes like gang rape, introduces the death penalty for repeat offenders and criminalizes activities like disrobing and voyeurism."

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