'This is just the beginning of the change'

The Justice JS Verma committee, set up to suggest ways to make rape laws stronger in the country, submitted its report yesterday. The committee was set in the wake of the gruesome gang rape of a trainee physiotherapist in Delhi last month.

Justice Verma said he was impressed by the “spontaneous” response of the youth against the December 16 gang rape. He said it was a “stupendous task” of compiling the report in one month’s time and they got response from organisations and students around the world.

“This is just the beginning of the change,” he said, adding that he hopes the report will be taken up “seriously” in the coming parliament session.

“Many recommendations made in the past for women have not been implemented. We have perfect laws, but they remain ineffective,” he added.

He also said that the first step is to eradicate eve-teasing or sexual harassment and stalking from society. “It is a serious matter... these practices are tolerated by the society. We need to first deal with the first step as it graduates to sexual assault,” he said.

He said he was “struck by the peaceful manner” in which the youth rose to protest the brutal attack on the 23-year-old woman, who was brutally gang raped in a moving bus. The woman, along with her friend, was later thrown out of the bus - bloodied and without clothes in the cold December night. She died 13 days later in a Singapore hospital.

“It was the young who were conscious that gender inequality has to be done away with. Even when there was provocation, they did not react and remained calm. It was a humbling experience for all of us who are of an older generation,” said justice Verma, a former chief justice of India and ex-chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.

“If they had not made the effort, this issue would have not come up. The issue was raised in a big way by the youth of this country who have shown the way how good governance can be achieved,” he added. 

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