February 6, 2013 — The ratification of India's sexual violence legislation "must be seen only as the beginning of a struggle to protect women from rape, trafficking and other abuses," yet it also demonstrates how India's "political system can respond to an urgent demand for change," a Washington Post editorial states.
The legislation did not arise because it was a priority of India's political elite, but rather came about in response to public outcry over the rape and death of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi, the editorial notes. Although the protests were met by "hostile police and callous politicians," India's "free media quickly took up their cause," the editorial adds.
"The pressure prompted the government to put the trial of the suspects in the rape on a fast track and to appoint a special three-member committee of jurists to examine the broader issues," the editorial states, adding that the panel came back with a "searing, 200-page report that lambasted police and politicians and a sweeping demand that India 'change the way in which women are treated.'"
While the government heeded this with the recent legislation, the "cabinet failed to agree on some recommended -- and needed -- measures" to reduce sexual violence, the editorial notes. It commends the political system's response to the public's calls for reform, but states that "legal changes are just the beginning of what is required. The harder stuff includes a top-to-bottom reform of corrupt and poorly trained police forces and a shift in entrenched cultural attitudes" (Washington Post, 2/4).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership