Frown for policy of rape compensation

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By CHARU SUDAN KASTURI AND JAYANTH JACOB in Delhi
  • Published 17.07.09
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New Delhi, July 16: Rita Bahuguna Joshi’s alleged comments against Mayavati are unacceptable but the chief minister’s policy of financially compensating rape victims is not enough to tackle the rising crimes against women, women’s activists have said.

Joshi, the Uttar Pradesh Congress chief, has been arrested on the charges of violating a woman’s modesty and under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for comments allegedly made at a public rally in Moradabad yesterday.

Joshi is accused of saying: “The Dalit women should throw the money back at Mayavati’s face. The money is too little…. When Mayavati gets raped, I will pay her Rs 1 crore,”

“If she has made the comments she is accused of having made, it is completely unacceptable. But it is also sad that the ensuing politics has blanketed the issue at hand —the security of women,” Ranjana Kumari of Women Power Connect (WPC) said.

Kumari said her recent experiences while working with women in Uttar Pradesh had shown her that rapes and other crimes against women were increasing.

“Mayavati was seen as someone who would enforce law and order. But the security situation for women is deteriorating. And compensating victims is no substitute for security,” Kumari said.

Syeda Hameed, Planning Commission member in charge of women and children, agreed that compensation was no substitute for security. But the former National Commission for Women (NCW) member, who has campaigned on women’s issues for decades, argued that financial compensation was, however, useful.

“Under the 11th Five Year Plan, we have allocated funds for a scheme for compensation to rape victims. The scheme is yet to be launched but I believe financial assistance helps a victim’s rehabilitation process,” Hameed said.

The scheme, initially drafted by the NCW in 2005, has been under the government’s consideration for over three years now.

Hameed also said it was “not done” to suggest that Mayavati was favouring any community while awarding compensation.

“To say that compensation is being given only to Dalit women or Muslim women is not done. One of the things I recall from my experiences at the NCW is the wide abuse of Dalit women... the massive number of rape cases against Dalit women,” Hameed said.

CPM leader Brinda Karat too said Joshi’s (alleged) remark was unfortunate.

“A woman has made such a comment on a women-sensitive issue. Women leaders should not be making such comments and should be sensitive to the issue of rape,” Karat said. She said “it’s good that Rita” had apologised.

“We condemn Joshi’s statement. What happened after that also should not have happened,” CPI leader D. Raja said.