Absurdity of India’s Answer to Rape
Beyond a doubt, rape is one of the worst and most intimate of crimes. The perpetrators of the heinous crime should be served exemplary punishments and under no circumstances should mercy be shown towards the offenders. The grave injustice inflicted on women and vulnerable groups impacts a life much beyond the moment of the crime. So, there cannot be two opinions about punishing the rapists in a civilised society. For a long time, there was no provision for death penalty for offenders of such crime in India’s rape law but after the brutal Nirbhaya incident, it is now the highest punishment that can be given to an accused if he/she is found guilty. Following the case, a number of rapists have been awarded death penalty but many argue that even such a severe punishment has not been able to bring down the number of rape cases in India. But that is altogether a different argument; crime cannot be contained only by enacting laws, it needs much more than mere laws to make a society free from such menace. Social awareness, gender sensitivity, adequate security arrangements are some steps required to make the society safe for women and other groups that may be at risk.
While making sincere efforts in achieving the goal, we should be careful not to show any leniency towards the offenders. Recently, there have been a series of baffling incidents wherein, instead of punishing the offender, a way out was suggested by the courts. For instance, in July last year the Orissa High Court granted bail to an accused on condition that he should marry the victim. In another incident, the Madhya Pradesh High Court in a shocking directive granted bail to an accused of molestation on condition that he should request the victim to tie him a Rakhi, a symbol of bond between brothers and sisters in Indian society. It should be clearly mentioned here that the law is meant to punish the offenders and it should limit its role to such. Such absolutely absurd suggestions should not be entertained at any cost. Otherwise, this trend will defeat the very purpose of making stringent laws to deter people from indulging in such misadventures. If an offender can escape the law easily by agreeing to marry the victim and law will become insignificant.
To make a society safe for women, India should look towards the Northeast. When the entire country was on the boil after Nirbhaya was raped and mercilessly murdered, the then police commissioner of Delhi Nikhil Kumar lamented that the rest of India did not respect women like the people from the north-eastern states. Remembering his long association with the region, he admitted that he had not investigated a single case of rape or molestation during his postings in various north-eastern states. Unfortunately, even after such an admission by a top-ranking police official, no efforts have been made so far to know how the societies in the region achieved the said feat. In-order to create a gender-sensitive society, efforts should be made to learn from the north-eastern states in this regard, rather than rewarding offenders with marriage proposal, which is ridiculous.