Rebecca John, a criminal lawyer who spoke with the commission, said the ‘‘very lexicon of the law’’ needs to be changed to remove euphemistic and outdated terms.
‘‘The very definition of crimes against women is faulty. Phrases such as ‘outraging the modesty of a woman,’ and references to her chastity or honor are irrelevant,’’ John said.
Most of India’s laws, including those on rape, were inherited from the country’s former British colonial rulers and date to 1860. Public pressure after highly publicized rape cases led to amendments in the rape laws in 1983 and 2003. But loopholes remain. The law, for example, does not recognize marital rape for anyone over the age of 15.
Women’s groups have also called for ending political interference in police work that lets accused rapists persuade police to quash their cases by forcing women to reach settlements with their attackers.
‘‘Those having clout are not held accountable even for blatant violations of laws,’’ said a joint appeal by 10 women’s groups made to the commission.
Human rights groups welcomed the panel’s recommendations to widen the scope of sexual rape to include assaults on homosexual, transgender and transsexual rape.
The commission has also recommended a uniform national protocol for the treatment and medical examination of rape survivors.
‘‘This is something that women’s and rights groups have been asking for for a long time,’’ said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director, Human Rights Watch.