Indian political system can respond when needed: Post

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Washington, Feb 5 (IANS) An influential US daily has hailed India's new laws against sexual violence, saying the political system can respond to urgent demands for change, and wondered if the US would respond the same way to the massacre of innocent children in schools.

"India has a reputation as a place where needed government action comes slowly, if it all," noted the Washington Post Editorial Board in an editorial titled "India's government, impelled to action on rape."

"This fault is often blamed on the country's democracy, which is said to be ineffective compared to the authoritarian regimes of China or Russia."

However, on Sunday, the Indian president ratified a landmark package of laws dealing with sexual violence, just 56 days after the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a New Delhi bus.

"The reforms fall short of what is needed and must be seen only as the beginning of a struggle to protect women from rape, trafficking and other abuses," the Post said.

"But they also demonstrate why India's political system can respond in a way unthinkable in Beijing or Moscow.

"India has nevertheless shown how its political system can respond to an urgent popular demand for change," the Post said, suggesting that the same could certainly not be said of China or Russia.

"As for the US, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings occurred two days before the New Delhi rape; whether our political system will respond to the subsequent outcry remains to be seen," the daily said.

The Delhi gang-rape triggered national outrage and widespread protests in the capital and scores of cities, forcing the government to set up a panel headed by a former Supreme Court judge to review rape and other laws.

The judge submitted a set of sweeping suggestions, some of which the government capsuled in the form of an ordinance. The government says it is open to other suggestions and ideas too.

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