Change in Mindset Key to Curbing Sex Crimes: J.S. Verma

Change in Mindset Key to Curbing Sex Crimes: J.S. Verma
Former Chief Justice of India J S Verma today said change in the mindset of society is more important than enactment of a law against sexual offences.

Justice Verma, who headed a Government-appointed panel that examined laws on crimes against women in the aftermath of the last December's Delhi gangrape case, said movement for gender justice and women's rights should be carried out on a sustained basis.

"Change in mindset is more important than enactment of a law against sexual offences. The role of the civil society is more important than the Government," he said, speaking at a women's rights conclave organised by Indian Merchants Chamber.

"International Women's Day was celebrated first in 1875. One century later the movement for women rights in India has gathered speed. What triggered the (latest) movement was the December 16, 2012 gangrape. Why does the public need such a horrendous gangrape to get them thinking?" he asked.

Praising the youth for raising their voice against sexual offences, Justice Verma said, "The youth of this country continued their peaceful protests despite provocation from the police. I saw visuals of young boys and girls being beaten brutally by police but they still did not react and protested peacefully. Mahatma Gandhi would have been pleased."

The youth's movement will sustain itself because it does not have a political agenda, he said.

The retired SC Chief Justice wondered why Government praised Delhi Police chief soon after the gangrape case.

"When our Home Minister patted the Delhi Police chief's back for arresting the accused in the gangrape case four days after the incident, I wondered why couldn't the police have prevented the rape in the first place."

The shocking crime, which outraged the country, could have been prevented if Delhi Police had implemented directives given by the courts regarding safety of women, he noted.

Emphasising the need for gender sensitivity, he said, "Police do not register FIRs. A victim of sexual offence is already humiliated and then she faces humiliation at the police station. She has to undergo a medical examination which is conducted in a very vulgar manner and then the trial."

The retired Judge opined that Mumbai continues to be the safest city in India for women. "Delhi does not reflect what India is all about. Despite some erosion of values, Mumbai will always be ahead."
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