Authorities should help survivors of sexual assault to navigate the criminal justice system, said Indira Jaising, Additional Solicitor-General of the Supreme Court of India, in her inaugural United Nations Public Lecture here on Monday.

Jaising, the first woman to be appointed Additional Solicitor-General, said: “The rates of judicial attrition continue to be high. The criminal justice system is not victim-friendly and focuses on the rights of the accused alone. …We need to ensure that the victim and her family are taken into confidence at every stage of the decision-making process and in the sharing of information relating to the prosecution,” she said.

Speaking on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Jaising also urged for greater clarity in the filing of cases of sexual harassment at the workplace in the context of The Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013.

“Provisions for penalising complainants must be removed as they tend to discourage reporting rather than support the victim. Similarly, the provision for conciliation of a complaint of sexual harassment must be done away with if we want to achieve zero tolerance of sexual harassment at the workplace,” she added.

Lise Grande, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, said: “Helping to end violence against women is a high priority for the United Nations in India.”

The UN Public Lecture commences as part of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, a UN release said.

aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 26, 2013)
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