Friday, January 11, 2013

The Grand Deception Excerpts

Photostat of editorial in LAW 31-12-2012 issue:

Editorial, "Rape Law needs a change?", in LAW ANIMATED WORLD, 31 December 2012, Vol. 8, Part 2, No. 24 issue.


courtesy: Tarek Fatah                                               courtesy: Mona Hassan                                          courtesy: Mona Hassan

No doubt, the recent Delhi gang-rape and the eventual death of the unfortunate victim - the bravely resisting paramedical student Amanat or Nirbhaya - is quite tragic and totally condemnable. The fury of protests by the people, mainly youths, that spontaneously broke out in Delhi, and spread to many other places, is also understandable and commendable, and certainly the rape laws need to be severe both in letter and in spirit - through prompt and proper implementation, and the latter is all the more essential in our conditions. However, the vociferous demands from many sections of protesters for prescribing death penalty for the offence of rape and also the recent moves for introduction of chemical castration for sexual offenders cannot be supported since it is well known that all over the world human rights organizations and activists are either totally opposed to, and demand abolition of, the death penalty itself, or would require the same to be limited to the ‘rarest of rare’ cases. Also, the precept and practice of chemical castration is being denounced by human rights associations like the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch etc. as improper and amounting to ‘cruel and unusual punishment’. The problem of rape is endemic all over the world with South Africa topping the list with about 120 rapes per lakh of population, followed by Botswana (92.9), Sweden (63.5), UK (28), Belgium (27.9), USA (27.3), Norway (19.2), France (16), etc. with our country standing at 1.8 per lakh of population. And in none of the countries with such disturbing rates of rapes and other forms of sexual violence, these extreme penalties are prescribed. Moreover, our rape law, Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, prescribes punishment up to life imprisonment for rape and more stringent dealing for gang-rape, and for murder, death penalty can also be invoked (S 302 IPC). Of course, the law could be made more stringent in case of gang-rapes, especially for those with deadly effects for surviving victims, but the talk of killing the culprits in ‘encounters’ or by public hanging after summary trial etc. is neither palatable nor seems equitable to any democratic ethos. Rather, the strict and speedy implementation of the existing rape law appears to be the more desirable option. §§§