20 March 2019, Wednesday

#JusticeForJisha: SFI Demands the Implementation of Verma Committee Recommendations

The Central Executive Committee of the Students’ Federation of India expresses its shock and grief over the gruesome rape of two Dalit girl students in Kerala (in two separate incidents) over the last few days. Jisha, a 29-year old law student was brutally raped and murdered in Perumbavoor, while in another incident, a 19-year old nursing student was raped in Varkala. The post mortem report brings to light the inhuman torture which Jisha was subjected to. The manner in which the case has been handled shows the gross inefficiency and callousness of the state police in dealing with cases involving sexual assault and violence against women. Even after a week after the incident, there are no indications that the police has found any major lead in the case. It has been reported that Jisha’s mother had approached the police five days before the murder, saying that there are threats to their safety. However, the insensitive police took no action.

The rape and murder of Jisha has sparked widespread protests, and along with it, varied reactions in Kerala. Without any substantiation, certain sections have resorted to spreading rumours that migrant workers from other states are responsible for the murder. Such rumour-mongering will lead only to mutual distrust and witch-hunting of innocent people.

These incidents are yet again a reminder that rape is an exercise of naked power, a manifestation of the desire to impose vulgar patriarchal domination over a woman’s body. The assault on Jisha also raises the crucial issue of the unavailability of secure housing to the most deprived sections of society.

The SFI, while demanding that the criminals in the two incidents be brought to book without delay, believes that the struggle has to be taken forward by waging battles to create a society where women can live and thrive freely without fear.

The Justice Verma Committee, set up as a result of the massive protests following the 2012 December 16 gang rape in Delhi, had recommended serious reforms in the legal, social and educational spheres to fight sexual violence against women. The path breaking, insightful report of the Committee strongly indicted the governments at the centre and the states for their criminal callousness in ignoring earlier recommendations in this regard. While certain recommendations of the Verma Committee were adopted as part of amendments to criminal law, many of the most crucial recommendations continue to be ignored.

SFI demands that the governments at the centre and the states, including the Government of Kerala, must take urgent steps to implement the recommendations of the Verma Committee report. Some of the most important measures include:

(1) A Rape Crisis Cell should be established to provide legal assistance in cases of sexual assault, and the police should intimate the Cell immediately upon receipt of a complaint.

(2) The guidelines of the committee regarding the manner in which criminal investigation should be conducted by the police in sexual offence cases should be implemented immediately.

(3) More women police personnel should be appointed on a priority basis.

(4) Gender and sexuality education should be included in school and college curricula.

(5) Anti-sexual harassment committees should be set up at all workplaces, and Gender Sensitisation Committees Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) should be set up at all educational institutions, with elected representatives.

(6) Steps should be taken to make public places and public transport safe for women.

(7) The Bill of Rights put forward by the Committee to promote, realise and protect the rights of women should be adopted by the governments.

SFI along with other sections of democratic movement has been organizing protests throughout Kerala. Protests are also being organized in other places across the country. We stand in solidarity with the grieving family of Jisha and with the protests demanding justice in the two cases.

V.P. Sanu, President
Vikram Singh, General Secretary