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.
As Kyle Gibson points out in his 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'
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 - especially for girl students. Many states of India have also got
a similar program planned. Now that is a step in the right direction.
, 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.
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.