An open letter by a number of women’s organisations, human rights NGOs and activists:
New Delhi, April 22, 2013.
The Home Minister,
Government of India.
The Lieutenant Governor,
The Buck Stops with You
Prevent and Respond to End Violence against Women and Girls
We, the undersigned women’s organizations and concerned citizens, express our strong condemnation of the rising incidence of heinous crimes against women and girls in Delhi. This continues in spite of an unrelenting campaign by women’s groups and civil society over the past many months. The recent rape and sexual torture of a 5-year old girl in Delhi once again highlights that the police and administration continue to respond to crimes against women casually, in gross violation of the law. In this case, had the police responded promptly and responsibly, there is a good chance that the little girl could have been rescued before grievous harm was done to her.
Delhi and the National Capital Region is not a safe place for women and girls, either inside the home, in workplaces or on the streets. This is evident from the ever-increasing incidents of rape and other sexual crimes against women and girls. This is a shameful indicator of the inadequate response and abject failure of State agencies to uphold the rights and safety of women. It is time that the government and its entire machinery, including the police, institute mechanisms and practices that will end impunity for all forms of violence against women. For this, ensuring accountability of the government and police at all levels, including prompt and exemplary action against police officers who are derelict in their duty, is a must.
We call on the Delhi Police to carry out efficient and time-bound investigations and take measures to ensure a speedy trial leading to stringent punishment in all cases of sexual violence. The police must also ensure that they take urgent necessary steps to ensure a competent, legal and sensitive responses by its personnel at all levels. We can wait no longer.
We would like to underline here that we do not hold death penalty for rape to be a deterrent or a solution in any way. Instead it would lead to even lower rates of conviction and might provide an incentive for murder of the rape survivor. Talk of death penalty only serves to deflect from the central issue here: which is to ensure an end to the deep-seated apathy and misogyny that marks the response of responsible institutions including the police, administration, and government.
We demand that the following measures be undertaken by the police authorities on an emergency basis:
- Sacking the Delhi Commissioner of Police Neeraj Kumar.
- Registration of a case under Sec. 166A IPC against the Investigating Officer of P.S. Gandhinagar, for not investigating the case of sexual violence in accordance with law.
- Action against supervising Police Officers – SHO – for failure to discharge their responsibility in supervising the investigation.
- Action against all concerned police personnel of P.S. Gandhinagar, for failure to comply with the directive of the Supreme Court of India to immediately register a case of a ‘missing child’ and promptly investigate the same.
- Institute a case against errant police officers under Section 21 of POCSO that requires mandatory reporting and RECORDING of a complaint of sexual assault. Non-compliance includes punishment including imprisonment for 6 months.
- Implement procedures mandated under POCSO with regard to recording statements, special courts, provision of support person, in-camera proceedings, time-bound charge sheet (30 days), and appointment of special prosecutor, etc.
- Registration of FIR against the ACP who was caught on camera slapping a woman protestor.
- Investigation into the allegation of bribe to the parents to hush up the case.
- Standardized investigation procedures to be circulated to all police stations, with action taken against police personnel who do not implement them properly;
- Increased sensitization, effective investigation and accountability of the police at all levels in dealing with all crimes against women and girls.
- Immediate relief, legal and medical assistance, and long term rehabilitation measures including counselling to be provided to survivors of rape, through necessary referrals and without delays.
- Ensure that all areas that are vulnerable and unsafe be referred to the appropriate authorities to improve infrastructure to make cities safer for women and girls.
Citizens’ Collective against Sexual Assault, Nirantar, Saheli, Jagori, AIDWA, AIPWA, Purogami Mahila Sanghatan, NFIW, Swastik Mahila Samiti, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Stree Mukti Sanghathan, New Socialist Initiative, Centre for Social Research, Women’s Power Connect, HAQ Centre for Child Rights, Child Fund India, Aangan, HRLN, Sangat, Focus on Global South, The Hunger Project, Anhad, Maitri, Pragatisheel Mahila Sanghathan, Purva, Pyoli, Vrinda Grover, Seema Misra, Farah Naqvi, Bijaylaskhmi Nanda, Runu Chakraborty, Jaya Velanker, Karuna Nundy, Ayesha Kidwai and others.