Justice Verma report's potency being diluted: Shabana Azmi

New Delhi, Febru Feb 21 (IANS) Actor-activist Shabana Azmi Thursday accused the government of "diluting the potency" of Justice Verma Committee report on sexual crimes by "cherry-picking" its recommendations.

"Women activist were happy about the suggestions, but government diluted the potency of the recommendations by cherry-picking suggestions. We must keep pressure on the government so that it implements the report in its totality," Azmi, 62, said at a demonstration in support of the committee's recommendations at Jantar Mantar here.

Around 70 people had gathered for the protest at the 18th century observatory organised by rights groups All India Progressive Women's Association, Apne-Aap Women Worldwide and All India Students' Association (AISA).

"The way some of the suggestions from the report have been dissolved reflects the patriarchal mindset of our society. Even the attitude of Delhi police and politicians following the December 16 gang-rape case was unacceptable. We have to note that it is the time to shift the blame and shift the shame," Azmi told reporters.

"We have to talk of a new society where women can rub shoulders with men. When we have to talk of changing mindset, we should remember the change has to be from all walks of society," she said.

AIPWA secretary Kavita Krishnan said politicians were afraid to bring an ordinance on martial rape.

"We're made to believe that women are a property of someone else. They are protecting politicians, police officials and bureaucrats by giving them impunity. Why is government uncomfortable to revoke impunity of seniors officials accused of sexual violence?" she told IANS.

"The government has been brushing aside incidents of sexual violence involving ministers by saying such issues should not to be politicised. But they should know such issues will be a point of contention in the coming elections," Krishnan said.

The Justice J.S. Verma Committee was set up by the government to review laws to provide for speedier justice and enhanced punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault.

The panel was set up in the wake of outrage over the gang-rape of a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist in Delhi.

The union cabinet later approved an ordinance to amend and make stronger existing laws to curb crimes against women as suggested by the panel.

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