We the undersigned would like to express our solidarity with the women of India in their fight for justice and respect in the wake of the rape and murder of the 23-year-old medical student in Delhi. We call on the government of India to do the following to ensure the safety and dignity of women in rural and urban India:
1. Violent crimes against women to be extended beyond rape to sexual assault, harassment and abuse (mental or physical) stalking, digital violation etc. This applies to crimes perpetrated either at home, in the workplace or in public spaces.
2. In the case of aggravated sexual assault/rape which would include gang-rape, child rape, custodial rape etc. the maximum punishment should be rigorous life imprisonment for the entire life of the person.
3. Provision of fast-track courts for all rape cases, including rapes in custody, in disturbed areas and conflict zones and where the accused are from the police force or defence services. This covers fast track for SoniSori, the school-teacher from Chattisgarh, who was assaulted in police custody . Where officials have been accused of assault, (as in the case of AnkitGarg in Chattisgarh), they should be stripped of their gallantry medals.
4. Prosecution of police forces guilty of not filing FIRs when approached by victims. Medical officers guilty of providing false statements to also be prosecuted.
5. Immediate support to victims and their families in the form of medical and financial help and counselling.
6. Women police officers to be available and visible at a women’s help desk in every police station. Women officers to take statements in cases of sexual assault.
7. Women detained overnight in small police stations must be under the supervision of women police officers.
8. Trained officers to man helplines for women and prosecution of officers if they do not respond.
9. Commitment from the government to ensure gender and sex education from primary school level and a national campaign to respect women.
10. Tighter control over advertisements/films/music to ensure that women are not presented as commodities.
ShrabaniBasu, Chair, Noor Inayat Khan Memorial trust (NIKMT)
SmitaTharoor, Trustee, NIKMT
AditiKhanna, Trustee, NIKMT
Dr KusoomVadgama, Trustee, NIKMT
Radhika Howarth, Trustee, NIKMT
Runi Khan, Trustee, NIKMT
Amrit Wilson, South Asia Solidarity Group (SASG)
Kalpana Wilson (SASG)