Reforms in customary laws broached during meeting on gender based violence

'Rise in number of crimes against women should be taken seriously and the state government should have detailed updates about the crimes.'

Various women activists have voiced for reforms in customary laws claiming that sexual assault cases are being settled through customary laws, especially in the hill areas. 

A public meeting on “gender based violence with special reference to rape in Manipur” held on Thursday at Tarung community hall deliberated on the issue. Resource persons in the meeting expressed that customary laws posed as a stumbling block in curbing crimes against women.

Speaking at the meeting, Women Action for Development (WAD) secretary, Mangsatabam Sobita has appealed to the village chiefs in the districts to reform customary laws as crimes against women cannot be solved through customary laws and there are acts and laws to be followed.

She stressed that rise in number of crimes against women should be taken seriously and the state government should have detailed updates about the crimes. 

She appealed to the state government to take up reports from every police station for registering cases and solve them every month. Such a report will make the state government aware of strategic measures to solve crimes against women, she opined.

 “Besides, crimes against girl children is also on the rise and as many as 12 rape victims this year are minors. There are acts to stop abortion of girl child yet there are cases of girl child abortion. The difference between girls and boys starts from childhood in families. Boys are always given priority. This needs to change to protect girls from being victimised,” she added. 

Pointing out that crimes are sometimes settled in police stations without registering any FIR, she contended that such an act is not acceptable. 

“If the police are responsible and perform their duties religiously, then the organisation will not interfere in their duties,” she said.

She went on to allege that police sometimes ask for money from victims for registering FIRs in return. “Why should victims give money to the police for them to perform their duties?” she asked.

Sobita also said that curbing crimes against women is not the duty of only the government or the police. It is everyone’s responsibility and educating children about crimes is becoming mandatory, she added.

Women Society Guigailong president, Priyadarshini M Gangte said that the patriarchal system of the state puts women in more risk. 

She also said that inclusion of sex education in school curriculum should be mandated. Besides, collective efforts from different quarters is required in bringing justice to victims, she added. 

Awareness on one platform should be spread to others so that people should be aware of sensitive cases, the resource persons said.

Women Committee UNMM member S Radhapriya; Kabui Mother’s Association president, Atompi; Rwuangmei Luh Phuam president, Aram Pamei also attended as resource persons.

After the meeting, the attendees took out a protest protest rally against rapist Meipipou Gonmei chanting slogans with the demand for speedy justice and not to grant bail to the accused.

First Published:Sept. 24, 2020, 11:17 p.m.

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