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National Human Rights Commission recently organised a national conference  on 'Human Rights of Women' in Delhi with the following objectives:

1. discuss ways to prevent and eliminate violence against women in the light of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 including the recommendations not incorporated in the above Act and the 'Bill to Rights' formulated by the Justice Verma Committee, especially the section on 'Right to Life, Security and Bodily Integrity';

2. focus on measures to eliminate trafficking in women and girls including steps for their protection, assistance and redressal and also take up necessary action for implementation of CEDAW, Trafficking Protocol (2000), IPOA and Amman Programme of Action;

3. address issues relating to women's sexual and reproductive health rights in line with ICPD and recommendations of the Second Universal Periodic Review accepted by the Government of India including elimination of discriminatory and coercive measures from population policies of States/Union Territories impacting on women; and

4. discuss strategies for strengthening women's empowerment and gender equality.

The participants, included, NHRC members, senior officers and officers from Ministries of Women and Child Development, Home Affairs, Labour, External Affairs, Panchayati Raj, Health and Family Welfare, representatives of international, non-governmental, civil society organisations, National Commissions and State Commissions.

The conference concluded with the following suggestions and recommendations:

1. Laws, regulations and policies that discriminate against women should be reviewed, amended or abolished to bring them in line with international human rights instruments.

2. Enact a new comprehensive legislation on human trafficking from a gender and rights perspective replacing the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956.

3. Each district should have a dedicated anti-human trafficking unit with appropriate manpower and resources.

4. The victims of acid attack should be given pension.

5. Patriarchal, social and cultural practices perpetrating discrimination and violence against women should be addressed with the whole might of the State and the law.

6. The law on sexual harassment at workplace should be extended to the workers of unorganized sector and the complaints mechanism should be effectively implemented in all sections of economy.

7. Regulation of practice of commercial surrogacy is required to protect the interests and rights surrogate women.

8. Regular social auditing of institutions like Nari Niketan needs to be undertaken.

9. A Bill of Women's Rights should be adopted, as a re-affirmation of the nation's commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment.

10. Political parties should adopt affirmative measures to support more women candidates.

Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Chairperson, NHRC, said that the Commission will send the recomendations to the appropriate authority after perusal.

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