Laws should be amended to include death as a punishment for rape in cases where after the crime the victim "is no longer able to enjoy a normal state of existence and functioning", Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said today.
"Regarding punishment for rape, mixed views have been emerging ranging from chemical castration to death penalty. I feel that if death penalty becomes the norm, this may reduce conviction rate," Tirath told a conference here of chief secretaries and DGPs convened in the wake gruesome Delhi gangrape incident.
"This may cause even more burden to rape survivor. However, cases of rape where the survivor is no longer able to enjoy a normal state of existence and functioning should definitely have a provision for death penalty," Tirath said, urging the Home Ministry to make the laws relating to crime against women stricter.
She said that chemical castration was not a practical option since it required continuous administration of necessary medication.
Crimes under Section 354 IPC (outraging the modesty of a woman), which include element of criminal force, should be made non-bailable, the Minister suggested.
She said that recent incidents of violence against women had created a growing concern regarding their security and priority should be given to address issues at the highest level.
Incidents of teasing and stalking should not be seen as normal behaviour and instead should be dealt with severely, the Minister said, asking the Home Ministry to take into consideration crimes such as these in the new amendment bill regarding IPC which is under preparation.
"Protocols for police, judiciary, investigating agencies, medical functionaries, legal aid agencies should be codified and strengthened for which my ministry is ready to provide full support," Tirath said.
"This should include codifying steps such as compulsory registration of FIRs, treatment protocols for rape and other sexual assault victims," she said.
She said that the implementation of laws related to women needed to be regularly reviewed while noting that her Ministry was developing a resource tool for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.
The Minister said that this tool would be launched on January 21 and could be adopted by all states governments.
There is need for addressing the problem of violence against women as a social issue in which mind sets need to be changed through awareness generation and gender sensitisation, she said.
"Violence against women has varied manifestations - a girl is vulnerable to violence right from birth, or I would say even before her birth till her life span," she told the conference.
Tirath said that measures need to be taken to change perceptions which are hostile to women in the society and culture and added that media had a role to play here.
"We really need to work on regular gender sensitisation through developing and adopting standard training material and structured training programmes which can go to every school, village, gram panchayat, wards and cover all sections of society right from elected representatives, school teachers, police functionaries, judiciary, to all government officials," she said.
Tirath said that gender sensitisation training should be made compulsory for all public functionaries and regular refresher courses should be conducted. These courses should be linked to promotions of officials, she said.
"We are also in the process of developing a National Level Institute for Women Empowerment with branches in different regions and states. The institute would be able to take up the work related to awareness generation, gender sensitisation training and capacity building in a much more structured manner with greater impact," she said.
Addressing the conference attended by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, she said that the National Mission for Women Empowerment had been following up with states to set up State Mission Authority.
To address gender concerns, Gender Convergence Officers had been identified in central ministries, she said and suggested the states to do the same.
The Minister said that the process of developing a national level action plan for improving the child sex ratio was also underway.
She asked the states to make public spaces safe for women by creating improved infrastructure such as well-lit pavements and increased public transport.
"Technology should also be utilised efficiently to bring about a perception of safety and security for women. CCTVs and GPS technology can be used in police stations, public transport, and other places where women frequent," she said.
Tirath said that her Ministry had held a consultation with women activists and experts on issues related to safety of women and the suggestions had been sent to the Home Ministry and Justice J S Verma Committee, set up to review laws on crime against women.