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Laws dealing with gender violence need to be simple and short so that victims as well as protectors do not have any problem understanding or interpreting them, experts at a seminar here opined Saturday.

“In India, the laws are not harmonised. As part of moving forward on gender issues we have to understand how to simplify the law. Very often even the police do not know the laws,” Ruchira Gupta, gender activist and founder president of NGO Apne Aap Women Worldwide, said at the seminar “Gender Justice, Criminal Law and Curricular Reforms” held at the India International Centre.

She quoted the Norwegian law against sexual violence as an example which she said was precise but was just one paragraph.

Agreeing that the law needed to be made simple and user-friendly, gender activist and lawyer Naina Kapoor said, the basic need, however, was to change the “mindsets”.

“We have to do deep reflection on how to change the outdated processes of addressing issues of rape, domestic violence and child sexual abuse,” she said.

Former solicitor general of India Gopal Subramaniam hinted at a bias within the judiciary and said “the bias which is built in the judiciary against the poor is something which is less said about the better”.

The noted lawyer, who was one of the co-authors of the Justice Verma commission report which gave way to the anti-rape law said, patriarchy was an “overstated” fact and could be easily dismantled.

Gupta contended that the present laws were stacked against women and that police brutality was a fact that has to be dealt with everyday.

“The committees which have been set up on police reforms actually give more powers to them,” she said adding that there was a need for a legal deterrence against the police force.

The seminar was organised by the Harvard Gender Violence Project (HGVP) which was set up in the wake of the 2012 Delhi gang rape case and the national and international call to action to stop violence against women.

The HJVP is a collaboration between the Harvard South Asia Institute, Harvard Law School, the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard and regional experts working in the area of gender violence prevention and intervention programmes.

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