“You must understand the environment in Pakistan. This has become a money-making concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped."
When in 2005, I read the above statement made by Mr. Parvez Musharraf, the then President of Pakistan, the first thought that stuck my mind was how miserable the condition of women could be in a country, where the country Head kept such apathetic attitude about a crime like rape.
But now I see that in India also, we are hearing such things from top level politicians and bureaucrats who are supposed to be responsible for safety of women. For example:
1. Ladko sey galti ho jati hai. Kya rape case mein phasi di jayegi? (First girls develop friendship with boys. They when differences occur, they level rape charges. Boys commit mistakes. Will they be hanged for rape).”
2. “If any woman, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, she should be hanged. Both should be hanged. It shouldn’t be allowed even if a woman goes by consent.”
3. If rape is unavailable, enjoy it. ( proverb used by CBI chief in a press conference to express his opinion on legalising betting )
Does the increasing number of rape cases have made these people so insensitive?
Our law says death penalty can be awarded only in rarest of rare cases. What if rape cases become as common as eve teasing? If rape cases become as common as eve teasing, should we declassify it as a crime at all? It is a general feeling that criminals can go to any extent of brutality against women and still get away with very little/no punishment. Speedy trial with strict punishment can only act as a deterrent to such crimes.Should the rapist be subject to minor punishment just because rape cases are not rare but have become very common? The criteria for punishment should be the degree of atrocity and not the occurrence of such events. I feel that one of the reasons for increasing number of crimes against women is that the criminal is confident of escaping the punishment.
Daily we read so many news items about heinous crimes such as rape in newspapers. But how frequently we come across death penalty awarded to the accused? My view is punishment should be severe enough to act as a deterrent to criminals. If a person knows that by committing a crime like rape, he might be hanged within a month, he is definitely going to think twice before going ahead. If speedy trials are done and number of death sentence granted daily for rape cases is even hundredth of the cases reported every day, it is going to inculcate the fear of law in the mind of people. The fact that the one of the accused in Delhi rape case started howling after hearing the judgement proves that even the most brutal criminals fear death, when it comes haunting them.
Similarly, the juvenile justice act needs to be re-examined. If a person is old enough to commit a crime like rape, he should be considered old enough to get the punishment also. While petty crimes such as pick pocketing or over speeding can be attributed to the innocence of a juvenile accused, the same yardstick cannot be applied for the heinous crimes like rape. Exonerating a juvenile for such heinous crimes is going to convey an adverse message to the adolescents that they can get away with minor punishment for even the most brutal acts. In fact, sparing the juvenile from death punishment awarded to fellow criminals in cases of gang rape might erase the fear of law and order in juveniles leading to abetment of crimes by them.
Our society needs to think over these points. Our administrators and leaders need to be sensitive. Then only we can expect some betterment.