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Fourth, various other acts, such as stalking, voyeurism, forcibly disrobing a woman, were not penalised under the IPC. The ordinance addresses this issue by specifically penalising these offences. For instance, stalking and voyeurism are punishable with imprisonment for three to seven years.
Fifth, in order to ensure that complaints about sexual offences are recorded, the ordinance specifically penalises public servants who fail to record information in these cases with up to one year of imprisonment.
While the ordinance resolves many issues raised by the Verma committee, the National Commission for Women (NCW) and some law commissions, some issues remain to be addressed. These include the requirement to secure compensation for victims of sexual assault to meet their medical and rehabilitation costs and the criminalisation of marital rape.
Under the IPC, the rape of a woman by her husband was not an offence, unless the woman was under 15 years or she was judicially separated from the husband. Even in such cases, the punishment for the husband was lower than the punishment for rape. Recently, the Justice Verma committee, and earlier, the NCW, had recommended deleting the exception to marital rape. The ordinance has not accepted this recommendation and continues to criminalise marital rape only when the wife is under 15 years or is judicially separated. This is at variance with the age of consent prescribed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (PCSO Act). Under this, the age of consent for sexual acts is 18 years. It does not create an exception in favour of sexual acts between a husband and a wife.
In the upcoming budget session, the ordinance will be tabled as a bill so that it may be passed as a law. The bill may then follow the legislative process, which includes examination by the relevant standing committee. Hopefully, the bill will be given due consideration in its passage through Parliament.
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