From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Shakti, Disha Act
Mains level : Women safety
In a bid to curb crimes against woman and children in Maharashtra, the state cabinet unveiled the ‘Shakti Act.’ The Act is modelled on the lines of Andhra Pradesh’s Disha Act, which was brought last year after a veterinarian was raped and murdered in Hyderabad.
Why have stringent laws have consistently failed to instill any fear in rapists?
Shakti Act: Key Provisions
- It proposes stringent punishment including the death penalty and heavy fines for the culprits.
- Special police teams and separate courts will be set up for investigation and trial of cases against women and children.
- The perpetrators if found guilty will be punished with imprisonment for life for not less than ten years but may extend to the remainder of natural life or with death in cases which have characteristics of being heinous in nature.
- A sum of Rs 10 lakh will be given to an acid attack victim for plastic surgery and facial reconstruction and the amount will be collected as fine from the convict.
- The investigation shall be completed within a period of 15 working days from the date of registration of an offence. This can be extended by 7 days.
- After a charge sheet is filed trial shall be conducted on a day-to-day basis and completed within a period of 30 working days.
- Some cases will be tried in-camera for the recording of evidence of victims and witnesses who are vulnerable.
Enforcement, not the law
- Despite several laws, incidences of rapes continue unabated.
- In fact, now we hear cases of extreme brutality.
- The general perception is that since the laws have been made more stringent, so the rapists resort to extreme measures in a bid to destroy the evidence.
- One thing is very clear, Laws alone cannot provide a solution to this problem.
What should be done?
- Law provides for speedy investigations and fast track of trials in rape cases.
- What we need is better policing, making public spaces safer for women, ensuring round the clock surveillance of isolated areas and deployment of police at all strategic points.
- Prevention and not punishment is the solution and that requires concerted efforts on part of all the stakeholders.
- It is not harsher punishments that will deter. It is the fear of being caught and not being spared.
- The message should go out loud and clear that no one is above the dignity and safety of women in our country.