SHILLONG: Observing its 23rd foundation day on Wednesday, the Meghalaya Peoples Human Rights Council (MPHRC) expressed its serious concern on the rising numbers of cases of rape against women and girls in the State.
“Nearly six years after the government amended laws and put in place new guidelines and policies aimed at justice for survivors of rape and sexual violence, women and girls continue to face barriers in reporting such crimes. Victim-blaming is rampant, and lack of witness and victim protection laws make girls and women from marginalised communities even more vulnerable to harassment and threats,” the MPHRC said.
According to chairman of the MPHRC, Dino DG Dympep, women and girls with disabilities continue to be at a heightened risk of abuse.
Dympep said that even though the laws on sexual violence include several provisions to safeguard the rights of women and girls with disabilities and facilitate their participation in investigative and judicial processes, girls and women with disabilities face serious barriers in the justice system.
The MPHRC said that as it looks to the future, and in order to address the chilling impact that rape and sexual violence against women and girls has from the perspective of human rights, urgent action must be taken by the government, as well as an independent monitoring mechanisms like civil society organisations and women’s rights movements.
The MPHRC said that the criminal justice systems that adopt force-based definitions of rape often require evidence that the perpetrator used coercion and that the victim failed to fight back.
“As such, the burden is placed on the woman to prove that she resisted. If unable to do so, the perpetrator would walk free while the victim is left stigmatized,” the human rights council said.
The MPHRC has also urged the government to ensure access to justice and accountability mechanisms and timely and effective remedies for the effective implementation and enforcement of laws aimed at preventing sexual violence against women and girls.