Reform of India’s Sexual Violence Laws
Submissions prepared by Professor Sandra Fredman FBA QC (hon.), with the assistance of members of Oxford Pro Bono Publico, on the invitation of the Justice Verma Committee (January 2013)
On the invitation of the Justice Verma Committee investigating the reform of India’s sexual violence laws, Professor Sandra Fredman, with the assistance of members of Oxford Pro Bono Publico (OPBP), has made submissions urging law reform on five central issues:
a) the framing of the issue in human rights terms;
b) the removal of the exception for marital rape;
c) the definition of rape;
d) discrimination under Article 15 of the Indian Constitution; and
e) services to support victims of rape.
The Justice Verma Committee was established on 21 December 2012 following the brutal gang rape of an Indian woman the previous week. The gang rape has resulted in widespread public protests. Consequently, the Central Government has constituted the 3-member Committee consisting of a retired Chief Justice, Chief Justice J.S. Verma; a retired Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh, Mrs Leila Seth; and Mr Gopal Subramanium, former Solicitor General and presently a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court. The Committee is engaging in wide-ranging discussions with experts in the field of law enforcement, sociology, psychology and psychiatry, as well as other inter-disciplinary specialists, to develop recommendations for the reform of India’s sexual violence laws. The submissions were gratefully received by the Committee, which reported on 24 January 2013.
The submissions were acknowledged in the final report and Professor Fredman was expressly thanked in the official press conference announcing the report. Nine or ten paragraphs of the submissions were used verbatim in the submissions.