India opens first women’s court

This follows demands for faster trials after gang rape of young woman on Delhi bus

A special court to deal with crimes against women has been opened in West Bengal state, India, following calls for faster trials following the recent gang rape and death of a young medical student in Delhi.

This will be the first of a series of planned courts and will be headed by two female judges. All staff and government lawyers will also be female.

The judges for the court have already been appointed, with ‘secrecy during the trials’ a priority, according to Justice Arun Mishra of the Calcutta High Court.

Lawyers in the state capital Calcutta believe appointing all female judges and staff will help women who have been raped or sexually assualted to be able to come forward.

Joydeep Mukherjee, the general secretary of All India Legal Aid Forum, said: ‘When there are men around, the female victim can’t speak up and give details of the atrocity committed against her. They feel shy. In these courts the victim will get a women-friendly atmosphere’.

On Wednesday a panel reviewing India’s laws on sex crimes, after a woman was gang raped on a Delhi bus, called for faster trials and longer sentences for those convicted.

The 23-year-old student, named as Jyoti Singh, later died of her injuries in hospital, sparking a national outcry and mass protests across the country.

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