NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee Monday said the government will have a policy of "zero tolerance" for violence against women, and was committed to providing 33 percent reservation to women in parliament and state legislatures.
The rape and hanging of two teenaged girls in Badaun in Uttar Pradesh last month is the latest incident of crime against women that has caused nationwide shock and horror. UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon expressed horror at the crime, saying he was appalled by the brutal rape and gruesome murder of the two teenaged women. The U.S. state department has also said that it is horrified to learn of these violent sexual assaults and murders.
The president said: "My government recognizes the important role our women play in the development of our society and growth of the nation. It is committed to providing 33 percent reservation to them in the parliament and state legislative assemblies."
He said the government is committed to "Beti Bachao - Beti Padhao" (Save Girl Child, Teach Girl Child), and will launch a mass campaign for saving the girl child and enabling her education. "It will structure a comprehensive scheme, incorporating best practices from states in this regard."
"In the recent past, the country has witnessed some gruesome incidents of violence against women. The government will have a policy of zero tolerance for violence against women, and will strengthen the criminal justice system for its effective implementation," he said.The Badaun rape and murder incident took place when the girls had gone to the fields to relieve themselves, highlighting a lack of toilets. According to a Lok Sabha answer last year, around 60 percent of rural homes in India lack toilets.
Referring to the lack of toilets, the president said: "We must not tolerate the indignity of homes without toilets and public spaces littered with garbage."
"For ensuring hygiene, waste management and sanitation across the nation a 'Swachh Bharat Mission' will be launched. This will be our tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary to be celebrated in the year 2019."
He said the government will modernize the courts to improve their operational efficiency, and start reform of the criminal justice system to make dispensation of justice simpler, quicker and more effective.
The National Human Rights Commission had last week asked all state governments to adopt measures ranging from constructing toilets to increasing women's security.
It had taken a dim view of the fact that women are forced to defecate in the open due to absence of toilets in their homes, which makes them vulnerable to crime. It had asked all the stakeholders to ensure "toilet facilities for each household".