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Can capital punishment be a deterrent for rape?

Satyen Mohapatra

By Satyen Mohapatra

June 27, 2018

New Delhi:The Central government acted swiftly and firmly against child rapists by promulgating an ordinance spelling out death penalty against the perpetrators.
Several other measures for harsher punishment and quicker delivery of justice have been inserted in major amendments to the POCSO Act.
Modi government demonstrated it is tough and decisive .The decision of the government naturally was widely and resoundingly welcomed throughout the country on day one.
However, very next day misgivings started pouring in and questions were asked if the decision was too harsh or too hasty.
Looking at the anger and outrage throughout the country following Kathua and Unnao rape cases government had little choice apart from this to show that it is taking effective measures against the growing incidents of rape.
But then will these stronger steps and awarding the capital punishment act as a deterrent lead to a drastic reduction in rapes against children? Already questions are being raised why not capital punishment against all rapists.
Threat of harsher and harsher punishments to act as a deterrent on criminals to stop them from committing a crime is a very primitive way of controlling crime .
While most civilized societies are doing away with capital punishment we not only continue to have it on our statute books but are widening its ambit. It is a very simplistic way of dealing with an extremely complex social problem like rape.
No one is born a rapist. What changes an innocent baby to become a beast is something for the whole society to ponder upon.
Unless we delve deep into the psyche of a rapist we cannot find long term solutions to the problem.
Only dispassionate research by psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, educationists will reveal as to what is going terribly wrong in our society and upbringing to make people commit one of the most reprehensible and beastly crimes known to man.
Brutal Nirbhaya rape case in 2012 shook the conscience of the nation and brought thousands of common citizens on the streets to protest against it, forcing the government to enact tough POCSO Act , but it seems to have had no check on the spiraling graph of rape cases.
The Act came in 2012 in which year the reported rape cases in the country was 24,923, and since then in 2013 rape cases jumped to 33,707, in 2014 were 36,735, in 2015 were 34,651, in 2016 were 38,947.
Society cannot absolve itself completely of its responsibility in the creation of criminals whether it is rapists, murderers, dacoits or even terrorists .
Growing crime and criminals are all only symptoms of a diseased society and we must cure the disease if we want to remove the symptoms permanently.
Why do the majority of people living in the same society not turn rapists but one percent does ? What are the impulse control mechanisms which work for the majority but fail in some? What kind of gender sensitization is required in the family and other areas of our society ?
Rape is primarily a psychological and sociological phenomena and substantial emphasis needs to be placed on the need and importance of proper and healthy sex education to children with the right kind of values which teaches them to be sexually knowledgeable and also responsible to be able to handle one of the most powerful instinctual urges.
Is there something wrong with our educational system, our socialization process ? What is the role of parents and teachers in this regard ?
What kind of impact is there of the media continuously battering the minds of both young and old with explicit sexual messages (as well as of violence) everywhere they look – from newspapers, magazines, radio, television, films , toilets, public shows ?
What social impact does large scale objectification of women, overstimulation, sexual frustration have on the minds young male ?
One of the reasons for growth in sexual violence against women is also due to the change of the traditional agrarian society with its feudal mind set into an urban ,consumer society striving to provide gender equality. Society is still uneasy on the whole question of full empowerment of women .
Is the system preparing the young minds to withstand the onslaught of all this sex and violence in the their midst 24 X 7 ? Are we equipping them with the proper training to act responsibly in the matters of sex and violence despite any provocation ?
The answer is unfortunately no. We as a society are not taking enough steps to ensure that from childhood itself a boy learns to respect girls ,we are also not teaching girls to defend themselves against any kind of predator. We are allowing entertainment media to show all kinds of trash just to make money. Gender sensitivity is virtually missing right across the society particularly the police and government officials.
Implementation of the law is again a major area of concern with very low level of convictions.
It has to be a multi pronged attack to root out the scourge from our society. Quick fix solutions will not yield much result as has been seen time and again.