Delhi Gang Rape

Delhi Gang Rape
Why the accused should get death penalty on 9/11

August 27, 2013

Rape is a heinous crime and no word is strong enough to condemn it. It is the most naked form of brutal instinct that mankind can harbour. Of late, it has become an acute disease that is dogging our society. Is it degeneration and mutation of our value system or is it the stress and strife of modern living that is stoking this animal instinct? Fulfilment of sexual desire is justifiable and a natural urge. When sex becomes a mechanism for establishing power and domination, it is rape. Even infants and children are not spared. Disturbing reports of child rape are pouring in from across the country.

A societal disease

In rape, there is an element of shock, serious injury and threat of death. Violation of the victim's modesty is also synonymous with it. This violation is physical, emotional and moral and associated with the closest human intimacy of sexual contact. The intention of the rapist is to profane this most private aspect of the person and render the victim utterly helpless. The character of the event is thus connected to the perpetrator's apparent need to terrorise, dominate and humiliate the victim.

If we go back in time and inspect the mythological pages of different regions and countries we will find that wars and atrocities against women went hand in hand. Even today, rapes form an important part of an army's arsenal. The telling tales are so brutal that women and society let it lie under wraps. Men have always been seen to have the upper hand in matters of morality. Mythological tales as well as our films are replete with examples. This has resulted in a social construct where men are traditionally seen as aggressive and women as submissive.

Surviving the trauma

Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS), the medical term given to the response that survivors have to rape, often lasts a lifetime. There is of course the deep embarrassment associated with the event. Physical impacts include the inability to get pregnant due to injuries to reproductive organs, bleeding and/or infections from tears or cuts, and other injuries depending on the amount of violence inflicted on the victim. The emotional repercussions are also huge, and include intense fear and helplessness, repeated distressing recollections of the event, depression, lack of concentration, change in sleep patterns, lack of trust in people, bitterness and morbid hatred for the perpetrator.

Besides the physical trauma, rape, by its very nature, is intentionally designed to produce psychological trauma as well. It is a form of organised social violence comparable only to the combat of war, being but the private expression of the same force.

Often, victims attempt suicide, unable to face the ostracisation by family and society.

Death penalty or leniency?

Globally, citizens have often vented their anguish through words like "rapists, as well as murderers, have given up the right to be considered human beings; they are rabid animals who should be put down before they can cause more damage." Just a jail sentence is inappropriate and inadequate for such crimes - especially when the psychological impact of it can leave indelible scars. Death penalty is an absolute requirement. A few capital punishments will certainly result in instilling fear in the minds of people who are prone to committing such an offence.

However, there are people and organisations of the view that death penalty can never solve the problem. Amnesty International, one of the world's oldest human rights groups, believes that capital punishment has no justification, and cannot mitigate the problem.

As Kyle Gibson points out in his article: First and foremost, the death penalty acts as the ultimate retribution for the victim and his or her family and friends. In many cases, capital punishment provides the only form of closure and a peace of mind as it disconnects the victim's peers from the murderer. The pain and difficulty of living with a lost loved one will still exist. Yet, a sorrowful family will not be forced to live with the fact that the convicted murderer still resides on Earth. It is important to keep in mind that justice is both penal in punishment as well as retributive to the victim.

Death sentences can certainly help in mitigating the problem. The fear of capital punishment being meted out can certainly help in making people think twice before committing such a horrible crime like rape. This will, in the long run, result in a reduction of such crimes, and help in the formation of a society where women can afford to live without the fear of being violated for no fault of theirs. When and if that happens, women can live as equal citizens.

Rape: A 'juvenile' crime?

There can be no justification for forgiving people who commit a crime as grave as this. Even infants and children are not spared. Disturbing reports of child rape are pouring in from across the country. What has shaken the country is the rise in number of juvenile rapists. Rape is an act of a deviant mind. Judicial system should take cognisance of the fact that rape is not a "juvenile" act, and no underage perpetrator should be allowed to get away citing age as defence. This cannot be stopped by simply putting people behind bars. What has to be kept in mind is that victims - many of whom are children, would carry the psychological and emotional burden of rape throughout their lives. For them, life as we know it is as good as dead. It is the duty of the judiciary to ensure that the severest of punishments are meted out to people who have destroyed lives by their heinous act.

The Positive Way Forward

Outcry and outburst of collective angst is a natural reaction after an incident of rape. Candlelight vigils follow. Protests reach a crescendo, and are predictably reduced to an ebb. It has been this way for far too long.

An important step is teaching the girl child self-defence. Minister for Women and Child Development and Social Welfare of Bengal has submitted a plan to make self-defence classes mandatory in schools - especially for girl students. Many states of India have also got a similar program planned. Now that is a step in the right direction.

A group of schools in Bengal is bringing about change at the elementary level - teaching its children to be gender sensitive.

400 girl students were given martial art training by local Policemen in Siliguri, West Bengal. Deputy Commissioner of Police of Siliguri, OG Paul explained that this is a small initiative to build confidence in girls and to train them to protect themselves in case of contingency. Commendable, indeed!

It is time for India to follow.

Parting thought

A rapist may have left home seeking the blessings of his mother or a Goddess, only to step out and commit the gruesome act of rape on a woman.

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Comments (6)
Harichandra Reply
August 30, 2013
I am surprised the article does not put any responsibility on parents raising boys to teach them for consent and treating girls with respect. That is as much, or more, important as teaching self defense skills to girls. Absolving men from taking responsibility and putting the onus of protection on girls is not a good strategy for any civilized society.
Gautam Reply
August 27, 2013
Well written and various aspects of the subject have been touched upon. I definitely think training girl children, youngsters and women in basics of self defense should become a must like a PAN card
Ayan Reply
August 27, 2013
This way, the whole country may have to be hanged! We need to educate people, instill values of gender equality from early age. We need a change in mentality.
Samiran Reply
August 27, 2013
Humanism holds good for people who deserve! Men who violate women in the most gruesome way deserve no chance to reform. They can NEVER reform.
Sri Reply
August 27, 2013
Some criminals are taking advantage of the fact that a loophole in the law makes it easy for "juvenile" rapists to get away. How can a person be "juvenile" if they commit adult crimes?
Debjyoti Reply
August 27, 2013
i am extremely saddened and pained at the status of women in India. The outrage and hype is fine, but what about those who are suffering, yet cannot report the crimes? I absolutely agree on death penalty for rapists. These barbaric crimes need to be dealt with an iron hand.
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