“13-year old kills self after being raped by her father”
“13-year-old boy arrested for raping 9-year-old girl in UP”
“6-month-old baby girl raped, murdered by uncle in MP”
“Teacher allegedly rapes 2 minor girls in classroom for 4 days”
And of course, the infamous Kathua and Unnao rape cases, and by the time I conclude this essay, my fingers falter to even count the number of rapes or cases of molestation that would have taken place in the meantime.
Silence, when taken into consideration at the face value, is often peaceful when it gets entangled with the voices and thoughts in our head to create a harmony of its own. However, silence at the behest of harrowing crimes is outrageous.
After having broken a long silence with respect to the heart wrenching Kathua and Unnao Rape case, the government at the centre has approved an ordinance prescribing death penalty to those convicted of raping children aged below 12 years.
One can say that the government has marginally escaped the deep waters it has been drowning in. The assurance assumes significance as it comes at a time when there is countrywide furore over the brutal rape case.
Now, let us weigh two aspects of punishments which these perpetrators deserve
Death penalty is a speedy and effective way of delivering justice to the victim’s family. It stands as a torchbearer to warn all the perpetrators of the circumstances. The said ordinance has sought a direction for expeditious disposal of rape and sexual assault cases.
However, ‘death is a sweet relief from guilt.’ Death penalty sounds plausible because death is the severest form of punishment we know of. There are many torturous forms through which one can be put to death, but our democracy is too civil to practice them.
Death penalty does not really justify the heinous crime that has been meted out on the victim as it affects one’s whole family. Even a non-lethal but harsh punishment delivered quickly has the potential of bringing change, exhibit A- incarceration.
The purpose of permanent incarceration still holds a strong ground as it gives to the criminals a lifetime to reflect, realize and repent, which speaks volumes against a hasty decision of declaring death penalty.
Also, in cases where the wrong person is caught guilty and is given a death penalty, then that would be grave and condemnable on the part of the judiciary as it would not be called effective justice.
But is death penalty the answer? Will death penalty sort out the eminent rights which women are deprived of or will they continue to persist like parasites off of us? An 8-year-old girl raped in Devisthan, a temple, a manifestation of spirituality, where people go buzzing towards the deity to ask for forgiveness for their sins, under all this farce, under its very ambit was a girl whose holiness was scarred by what they call themselves as the religious proprietors.
Many have coloured this case under the garb of political conspiracy and pseudo-secularism. But this has to be understood that this is not a tussle of one religion against another, but ideally, it should be our angst against such inhumanity which has galvanised the whole country. Religious skirmishes are but a façade painted on the canvas of religious animosity and political foul play.
As I finish writing this essay, as I dare to question the holy, I am afraid of eyes lurking at me. I pray for my safety tomorrow morning as I step out of my house knowing that the place where god resides, even that monument is not safe. Death penalty in rape cases is not the solution to make India safer for women.
In retrospect, like many legislations that have been loosely handled, will this decision also take months or years to reach its fruition, thus, adding on to the backhandedness of the Indian Judiciary or will it function effectively and we will not have to hear any more about the sanctity of girls being hampered.
It does not take for a Hindu or a Muslim, but an average Indian, or just an ordinary person to start the process of reconciliation at one’s home by respecting our daughter, sister, mother or wife.
Nelson Mandela once said that – “The more informed you are, the less arrogant and aggressive you are.”
Thus, education as a measure to spread awareness might go a long way in breaking this stigmatization and adopting opinions and a clear perspective with regards to the punishment and the persons to be blamed. And at the end of it, if such a tragic does not compel us to ensure a safe and secure environment for all, then I don’t know what will.