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Anti-rape law: Sharp divide over proposed amendments

Mar 07, 2013 07:59 AM IST Politics Politics

New Delhi: After the brutal Delhi gangrape incident, the government faced pressure to come up with stringent anti-rape laws to curb sexual violence against women. The Justice JS Verma committee proposed certain amendments in the existing rape laws. The Home Ministry now has proposed a few changes in the ordinance.

The new anti-rape law accepts Justice Verma's recommendation to lower the age for consensual sex from 18 years to 16 years. Instead of the term sexual assault, the new anti-rape law brings back the word rape, thereby not making it gender-neutral. However, the new law rejects marital rape.

And while the NCW has welcomed the changed law as more women-centric, the Opposition was quick to demand a re-draft of the anti-rape law to include 'sexual assault' along with 'rape' to keep the law gender-neutral.

Women activists, too, feel that a stronger law is needed to check the soaring sex crime graph. The proposed changes in the anti-rape law received mixed reactions from parents and youngsters. Meenakshi Lekhi said, "We too had asked to bring back the 'rape' instead of 'sexual assault'. This change would only make the law more women specific."

The changes in the anti-rape law will be tabled in the Cabinet meeting on Thursday. It remains to be seen whether the House will accept the proposed amendments to help finalise a strong anti-rape law for women's security.