Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Rape and punishment

The National Commission for Women recently came up with a host of suggestions to deal with rape in the country. But it has recommended very short terms for rapists. I wonder why? Does the commission think that a rapist can be 'cured', or would regret his crime by spending a few years behind bars? Can a rapist be ever cured? However, that is a topic for another post.

The commission has suggested somewhat stiff punishment for men in uniform and those who hold responsible positions. In cases of a police official commiting a sexual assault on the premises of the police station where he is appointed, or if he assaults a woman or child under 16 years of age, the commission proposes he should be liable for a minimum punishment of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment. The staff or management of a hospital, remand home or a women's or children's institution committing such an act should be liable to punishment from five years to 10 years in jail and a fine, the commission has proposed. Five years, is really a very short term for rape, especially if the woman is under treatment in a hospital or under care of a remand home. And just five years for raping a child? This is no punishment for bodily harming and scaring her or his psyche for life. In fact, the punishment for raping a child should exceed that of raping a woman.

The commission has proposed a prison term for seven years for incest. Is that enough?

Whenever I write about rape, the situation of women in Saudi Arabia horrifies me no end. That is one of the countries where a rape victim is punished! Lashes and a jail term! This tragic incident happened not so long ago in Saudi Arabia. See what the woman's husband has to say about it -http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/11/21/saudi.rape.victim/index.html

In Pakistan till recently, the testimony of four pious (I wonder how they define that!) persons, sorry it should be MEN, was needed for a rape to be proved! Now where in the world would you find four eyewitnesses for rape? And what kind of men, and pious men at that, would they be, if they let the rape be committed and did nothing to prevent it?

See how the Afghan men reacted to a protest by Afghan women to the introduction of a new law – they spat and threw stones at them!

The law introduces some more restrictions on women -- it bars them from leaving their homes without the permission of their husbands and also legalises marital rape.

The world over there are few convictions for rape. I wonder why that is so? Is it because that often it is only men who man the judiciary? Or the fact that men can never really understand the trauma of rape? Of is it that we use different yardsticks for defining wrong and right for men and women? Or that in some countries the adherence to some warped male interpretation of religious text takes precedence over everything else? Whatever it is, there is no denying that around the world men get away lightly with rape.

Though India does not have such archaic laws, the rate of conviction in rape is abysmal. It is still very tough for a woman to come out openly and say she has been raped. And after she does that, little or no action is taken in majority of the cases. Insecurity, public censure, lack of support drives some women to take the extreme step – commit suicide.

Most horrifying is the way judges behave. Read about the way a Pakistani judge conducted the trial of a 13 year old girl who was gangraped -
Shouldn’t he be punished? Why does he get away with the wrong he does? Just because he is a judge?

In my earlier post I wished to share what women in different parts of the world feel the punishment should be. Though I did not get any response from a Pakistani or an Afghani woman, I am sure they too would advocate life imprisonment, if not death and castration.

There is a great schism between how women view rape and how the state reacts – in most countries in a very patriarchal fashion. Raping a child should be considered more serious than raping a woman. Is there any country in the world where this is being done?

Later posts: Rape and molestation, mindset and judgments
                  Another gangrape in Delhi, how will we act?

Some opinions from around the world. One of the posts states that in India rape is equated to murder. That is not true.
You must see this oneSociety elders decide five shoe smacks enough punishment for a rapist!

Can a rapist ever be cured? Read what is being said about it.


srinath said...

reading ur post i feel the situation of a women in India is far better than her condition in many other countries... Having said that, i dont think v should justify the punishment handed over to rapists in our country... I think the punishment should b really harsh that no other man would dare think of raping a lady in his life be it marital or no... n men actually start respecting women

Indian Home Maker said...

I saw the video ( http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/11/21/saudi.rape.victim/index.html#cnnSTCVideo and was really glad to see the husband protest so sincerely. His views on marriage were also worth being shared with more people.

If it is okay with you I would like to share this video and another one (a blogger sent it by email) - about how the society, some men and women, and the system - and not all men are misogynists. I have always found it alarming that any talk of No Gender Inequality is often seen as a fight between men and women.

SV said...

IHM, Yes, it was heartening to see the husband stand up for his wife. You make a good point about talk about gender inequality being seen as a fight between men and women which it is not.
I found the video on the net, so you are free to link to it.

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