Should Rapists Be Hanged?
The law on rape is not easy to formulate
Rape and punishment are very much on the mind these days. The laws are tough and are being used and, unfortunately, misused. Then there are mistakes. Just plain bad luck. This is what one woman said, after identifying the wrong man as her attacker. “My testimony sent an innocent person to prison€ I absolutely wanted the earth to swallow me.” In the meantime, the real culprit, roaming loose, had committed a murder. The innocent, a father of three, spent 23 years in jail.
The moment there is a report of a sexual crime, alarm bells are set a-gong. The common refrain, ‘Hang the monster’. Granted; so does this author feel, often. Then, the heart wrestles with the brain, and, luckily, the latter comes out on top.
When the woman’s quote, above, hit the screen, this article had found its moorings; and what it hopes to achieve is to recognise that we need to err on the side of caution. Retribution being the foundation of our legal system, punishment is a must. But it is not butter that can be spread evenly. Each case is fundamentally different. Moreover, a media-led frenzy is not in the interest of civilised thought. Hanging is not the only answer. At least, not for crimes other than proven treason.
Two things bear repeating. One, the author is against capital punishment, not per se, but it’s an error that cannot be corrected. Secondly, rape is the vilest of acts. It does not just destroy a woman. It sears her soul, disfiguring it for life. The problem begins when the two issues dovetail.
‘If he is old enough to rape, he is old enough to hang,’ is what we hear very often. Maybe yes; maybe no. It depends on how close one is to the victim. And a lot depends on the ‘graphicity’ of the report. Let us consider some incidents.
A) A youngster, under the influence of alcohol, commits rape. The girl dies in the brutal aftermath. The boy serves a short sentence and goes home.
B) A child steals a few rupees. Everyone says he made a ‘mistake’. Won’t do it again. He does more than that, with impunity.
C) Four youngsters invade a court in Delhi and gun down a policeman and critically wound an undertrial. They will be tried as juveniles; the decision being taken just before the new amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act.
D) A girl of 15 is raped. She delivers a child. A superior court has second thoughts about the conviction. A judge suggests ‘marriage’. Shades of what cops do. Eight years later, she agrees. The ‘father’ is now free.
E) A woman is repeatedly raped by her husband. Domestic violence? When we still consider a wife to be the ‘husband’s property’?
F) A girl is caught cheating at a senior college exam. The father argues that she is just a ‘mulgi’, a kid! Won’t do it again. Then, he starts to bargain. Cut two marks, he pleads. Ok, cut five marks. Would you believe her, if she cried ‘rape’ in later years?
You be the judge.
A) The ‘Nirbhaya case’, generating so much angst. B) An almost everyday occurrence. C) A recent incident at the Karkardooma court. D) Was in the news a few days back; adding to the chaff collecting in the mind. E) A crime or bedroom antics? F) Sounds funny; but are the parents not encouraging the child?
The Nirbhaya case was brutal. But should the law be changed for every juvenile? Should each kid be hanged? The victim’s parents’ deep anguish is understandable. But when parents take up for their own child at the drop of a hat, who is to cast the first stone?
The change in the Juvenile Justice Act is not as severe as demanded. Yet, will it reduce juvenile crime? Only time will tell.
This author thinks it will be ‘dj vu’.
Bapoo Malcolm
6 years ago
There is one topic that I forgot to mention in this article.

If a death sentence is mandatory or recommended in rape cases, the rapist will ensure the death of the victim. It will eliminate the witness and, after all, you cannot hang a man twice.

Bapoo M Malcolm, author of the article.
Mahesh S Bhatt
6 years ago
Can we inculcate better Values Systems/Healthy Attitudes towards Females within Individuals/families/relatives/friends.

Punishments have never detered the Criminals but good healthy Values & Fear have detered persons doing wrong.

Brutal reactionary laws have created rape+murdur as new challenge for society.

Can we get better media representations of Females in TV/Internet/Newspapers.

Even standard papers like Times of India has page 3 where more than 5-6 scantily clad party girls are there.Earlier Midday use to sell midday mate today there are all media having Morning loaded with mates.

Bet you these are rich powerful & successful media houses.

Sometime back Deepika Padukone retorted blatantly to TOI photographer who was clicking her cleavage & news went viral.Females should themselves take this onus.

Earlier there were 1 cabaret,now heriones are scantilly clad in whole movies with heros too.

God also cannot bless if we loose our guiding red lines/red lights.

Amen Mahesh
6 years ago
agree with the stance on capital punishment. since an error, if made, cannot be reverted, it should be used extremely sparingly, when the evidence is well beyond a shadow of doubt for a collective nation. only kasab incident comes to mind...

even in usa & elsewhere, there have been cases when the innocence was proven well after the person was hanged...
shadi katyal
6 years ago
One can argue about some times wrong people convicted but is it not failure of the Law. Are thre any Rape kits with police and experienced officers with compassion to show any sympathy to the Victimn.'
The Laws are not judicious enough either to cathch the cultpriot or like Nirbhay case,double stand ard is utilised under thr bnane of Law.
It is time to change the Laws so tht nonbe of these culprits go free.
The documentary of Nirbhay case by BBC was not allowed as we are a nation unwilling to accept the TRUTH and thus such cases will continue .
It is timeti wake up
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