Four days after the Supreme Court ordered capital punishment for the four accused in the Nirbhaya rape case, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has recommended that India do away with death penalty.
Following the Universal Periodic Review of India’s human rights track record, conducted by the UNHRC every four years, the country has received 250 recommendations, some of the crucial ones being abolishment of the death penalty, ratifying the convention against torture and other cruel punishments, and criminalising marital rape. India has decided to review the recommendations and report to UNHRC by September.
The issue of making marital rape punishable has met with lacklustre political will. In the recent past, Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Chaudhary went on record in Rajya Sabha to say a move to amend the Indian Penal Code to undo the exclusion of marital rape from the definition of rape would be “impossible”.
Merely a year later, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi went on to say the ‘concept’ of marital rape “as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors such as level of education/illiteracy, poverty.” The preference given to social customs over the protection of women from crimes is not just limited to laws on rape. India’s ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, comes burdened with conditions.
While ratifying the Convention, in 1993, India declared, “With regard to Articles 5 (a) and 16 (1) of the Convention… the Government of India declares that it shall abide by and ensure these provisions in conformity with its policy of non-interference in the personal affairs of any Community without its initiative and consent.”
Article 5 (a) pertains to eliminating prejudices and customary practices that hinge on the idea of inferiority of women; while 16 (1) asks States to eliminate discrimination against women in matters related to marriage as well as family relations — giving equal rights to choose spouse, choose the number of children, to own property, and have a job, besides others.
Some of the other recommendations include, preventing inter-communal violence; eradicating all forms of caste-based discriminations and violence; and strengthening the national mechanisms to combat human trafficking.
Updated on: 09-05-2017