In New Delhi, five men have been formally charged with rape and murder in the assault of a young student last month. The case unleashed public anger across India, along with demands to overhaul the system that handles crimes against women.

Roselyn Karakattu, SCN, writes the following:

On Jan. 2, I attended a meeting along with Father Philip Manthara, SJ, a few prominent lawyers, members of Mahila Samakhya and with the heads of several women’s NGOs and other social activists to make some suggestions to the Verma Committee at the centre formed to propose amendments in the law for safety of women following the rape and murder of a woman in Delhi last month.

We began by lighting a candle each and placing it in a circle in honor of the “brave heart.” Many felt that it is an issue to be discussed widely but is a hurried exercise as the date set for the suggestion to reach Delhi is before Jan. 5.

Our suggestions include speedy trial of cases, severe punishments to the Delhi rapists, time bound punishment to the culprits, only female police to be present during the interviewing of the victims, examination of the victims to be done in private hospitals when possible instead of district government hospitals as is the custom, and it is to be done within 24 hours, police stations in-charges and the cops who refuse to lodge FIR (first information report) or who try to change the nature of the case from rape to eve teasing should also to be brought under the purview of the law.

Definitely, India is awakened to a reality and let us hope that some good will come out of it all.

Sister Roselyn Karakattu is a social worker and director at the Arunodaya Social Education Center in Patna, Bihar, where she is committed to work for justice and empowerment for women. Her approach to mission calls for looking at the persistent and pervasive societal discrimination against women, their lack of access, and control over economic, social and political resources.

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