Capital punishment not the response to sexual crimes: Caritas

Published 11 January 2013
Caritas India, the social wing of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) submitted its suggestions to Justice (Retd) JS Verma Committee for making India a gender sensitive nation, last Saturday.

Although, justifying public rage and protest against the infamous rape in New Delhi, Caritas India, the second largest network of NGOs worldwide after Red Cross, does
not support capital punishment as a deterrent to such crimes.

In its eleven-point recommendation to the Committee set up by the Union Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Caritas India has demanded introduction of gender-sensitive curriculum from school level onwards to promote and foster a balanced gender perspective in India. It has noted with concern the failure of the country to
protect girl-children and women.

Other recommendations of Caritas include setting up of special fast track courts with women lawyers, women welfare committees at district levels, anti-sexual harassment task force with 60% women at Panchayat levels, higher rank of police officers for handling rape and sexual crimes, national toll free women helpline, CCTV cameras with announcement facilities in public spaces.

While strict and effective enforcement of the law is required for the safety of women, Caritas has also cautioned the government against appropriate safeguards
to prevent misuse or taking any undue advantage of such laws.

The Verma Committee's recommendations would be placed before the government in less than a month. It is expected to pave the way for amendment of existing
laws to deal with rape and other crimes against women so as to provide speedy justice and enhanced punishment in sexual assault cases in India.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of Caritas India, Fr. Frederick D'souza said that Caritas is planning to conduct an in-house consultation involving its staff and sister
organizations in New Delhi. The consultation is aimed at sensitizing its staff and others on gender issues in view of growing crime against women in India.

Similar consultation will also be organized from time to time in the future in response to various social issues that need attention.

Caritas India which completed 50 years of its service to the nation in 2011 has been in the forefront of serving the poor, providing relief, community health, capacity building, disaster risk reduction and natural resource management programs.

Recently, forty four village clubs have been formed and linked to NABARD and Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) under Harit Prayas an on-going project of Caritas covering sixty four villages. It is a move to establish sustainable institutions at village level to support deprived farmers' community in the region.

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