DELHI: Campaigners in India gave a guarded welcome to a 630-page report recommending wide-ranging legal and other reforms as the trial began for five men accused of the rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in Delhi last month.
The report, presented by a special commission set up following the attack and given to the government by Jagdish Sharan Verma, a former chief justice of India, amounts to a harsh indictment of policing, the courts, successive governments and social attitudes, which together have contributed to the wave of sexual violence against women.
Trial in India gang rape case begins
The trial of five men charged with the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus began on Thursday.
Key recommendations include police and judicial reforms, an end to intrusive testing of rape victims, heavier sentences for some crimes as well as new offences to cover stalking and marital rape.
''It is a landmark,'' Meenakshi Lekhi, a lawyer, activist and opposition politician told the local NDTV channel. However, Ms Lekhi and many others said most of the recommendations in the report had already been made several times before.
Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research and a prominent women's rights activist, said she doubted the political will was there to implement worthwhile reforms.
''The government may act on the easiest recommendations but nothing more,'' Ms Kumari said.
Police were on alert outside the sprawling court complex in south New Delhi as the men arrived for the trial on Thursday.
Inside, about 30 policemen blocked access to the courtroom, while scores of journalists and curious onlookers crowded the hallway.
The suspects were whisked into the courtroom by a phalanx of armed policemen for the start of the trial, which will be held in a closed court room after Judge Yogesh Khanna denied a defence motion to make the proceedings public.
■Five suspects, their faces covered with woollen caps, arrived in court on Thursday for the start of their trial for the rape and murder of the young physiotherapy student on a bus.
Police were on alert outside the sprawling court complex as the men arrived. Inside, about 30 policemen blocked access to the courtroom.
The suspects were whisked in by a phalanx of armed policemen for the start of the trial, which will be held in a closed courtroom after the judge denied a defence motion to make the proceedings public.
Failure of good governance is the obvious root cause for the current unsafe environment.
A sixth suspect is expected to be tried in a juvenile court.
Guardian News & Media, Associated Press