Nearly 1,500 members of the Indian community in Berlin led by GOPIO’s chapter president Barjinder Sodhi and Sarina Bansal-Goerke met with visiting Indian Foreign Minister, Mr Salman Khurshid, and presented him a petition asking that India’s law and order be improved to protect women in India
The petition followed the rape and death of a 23-year-old girl from Delhi in December 2012 that caused a national uproar. Written on behalf of the common citizen, the petition, addressed to the Prime Minister says the following:
Subject: Rape/Assault of Damini
The brutish rape and assault of the 23-year-old woman on 16 December 2012 in Delhi caused the same alarm among the Indian community outside India as with the protesters on the streets in India, as regards the situation of women in the country. On this sad occasion, which the media discussed world-wide, we shall submit the present petition to express our concern, and request the Indian government to deliberately further a change in the Indian system of values, and to enforce it by law.
If people in politics and the paragons of the country fail to give a better example, the brazen manner of making women the victims of overweening violence and sexual assaults will completely destroy the image of India as “country mama” so dearly propagated. It is time to shake up with a will and vehemence the obsolete perception of women, values und ethics.
Thus, we appeal to the Indian government to take a sincere look at the following:
• Raping alone is a serious felony. This situation is even aggravated once the putative defenders of human rights – the state administration, the police and armed support are directly involved as perpetrators – this also applies if they just look the other way, and fail to help the victim.
• It is the duty of the Indian government to prosecute and punish rapists and sexual assaulters – the more so if they hold positions of power – and put an end to an attitude of impunity as regards violence against women.
• Police officers, officials and members of the government guilty of sexual violence against women must be prosecuted under criminal law, and removed from office.
• The National Election Watch found out that several nominees in leading political parties are also accused of rape or other misogynic abuse.
• There must be independent investigations into wrongful behaviour of the police and public servants; the pertinent laws have to be tightened and revised.
• In other countries, such as Germany, the respect toward women is much more embedded in society and judicature. Although misogynic acts exist in the Western world too, these countries benefit from regulations involving liability under criminal law, and social consequences. India too enacted sufficient laws to protect women and human rights, such as National Commission for Women Act, 1990, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment Bill, 2007, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, The Indian Penal Code, 1860. It is all the more shameful the fact that these existing regulations seem to have no tangible effect. Reforming the judiciary and the police is a first step to better protect women.
We expect the two committees of inquiry appointed by the Indian Government to provide unbiased results and recommendations, to be quickly implemented.
Child marriage, feticide, infanticide, sex trade, domestic slavery and violence, and a high rate of maternal death – among the G20 states, India is the country where women’s situation is worst (Trustlaw Women Poll 2012). Sadly, this is the current reputation of India!
We, representatives of Indian people living in Germany, consider ourselves as ambassadors of India in the German community, trying to rouse an interest in, and understanding of Indian culture, and share it with our fellow men. The negative events in India cause immense damage to its reputation and values. Therefore, we trust that you will strongly further the necessary measures and changes in the country. On behalf of the Indian community in Berlin, we submit this petition to your representative, Mr. Khurshid, Minister of foreign affairs.
Signatories: Indian Community in Berlin, represented by
Barjinder Sodhi (GOPIO)