Lack of women in rights panel, apex court discriminatory: UN official


New Delhi : UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navenethem Pillay, who is on a three-day visit to India, Monday said the absence of women in the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Supreme Court was a kind of “discrimination”.

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Pillay spoke at length about women’s empowerment in India and on expanding role of women in various spheres of the society at a conference organised by the NHRC here.

“Sixty years ago, as the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights got down to work, it was the Indian delegate, Hansa Mehta, who ensured that women’s equal entitlement to human rights would not be merely subsumed under the ‘rights of all men’ catch-all expression,” she said.

“I commend initiatives such as SEWA, the Self-Employed Women’s Association and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, which recognises marital rape as a form of domestic violence,” she added.

And even as she hailed activism by young women against attempts to constrain their conduct on the basis of obscenity laws, Pillay added: “However, the absence of women in power in the NHRC and the Supreme Court is a kind of discrimination which I hope is addressed soon.”

There are no women in the core body of the NHRC and same is the case with the Supreme Court. An NHRC official said though there were no women in the core group the commission has women employees.