The Demand On Media For Castration And Capital Punishment – Is It Really The Solution For Rapes?

What is the solution for rapes? Every day brings news of more rapes, in many corners of India, with no end to the epidemic. What can be done about it?

Whenever a sexual assault case grabs the prime time news headlines, following things happen :

  1. A media trial,
  2. Spotlight on similar cases from the recent past which haven’t received closure, and,
  3. A call for castration and capital punishment as the default sentences for the accused.

Regarding pt. 3, it isn’t too hard to understand why there is clamour for such condemnation. People are tired of having to see the same kind of crimes happen again and again with seemingly no prospects of justice, either speedy or delayed. That creates a demand for punishments so severe that potential rapists may think a hundred times before even imagining committing such an act. But are these really the way forward?

Firstly

Capital punishment is, in my opinion, an easy way out for a person who has committed such a crime. It’ll finish his life and he’ll never have to live through the pain, trauma and humiliation that the victim is forced to. Is that fair? Why should the victim have to suffer (again) when it’s the perpetrator who ought to have to face the vagaries of life?

No! I don’t think that’s good. While the current 7-year term might be kept as it is for first-time offenders, repeat offenders and history sheeters should be slapped with till-death life sentences. That would be more apt than taking them to the gallows.

Secondly

What if the accused isn’t actually guilty? What if he’s been set up? In that case, not only would the punishment be a misjudgement, it’d also mean that the real criminal still roams the street, ready to devastate another woman’s life.

Now I accept that the proportion of such cases could be small, but when we are discussing fair and deserved justice, every case matters.

Thirdly

The world is moving away from capital punishment and there have long been calls for the abolition of the death penalty. If we make castration and capital punishment the default sentences now, it’d be a regressive measure.

Activists and the social media ‘intelligentsia’ who hijack the discourse in such times eulogize Saudi Arabia for the way it deals with such ‘criminals.’ What they don’t say, and this is pertinent here, is that Saudi Arabia is a monarchy with one of the worst human rights record in the world. The Saudi government bans a whole lot of things that we take for granted here in our country, like women not wearing loose, full-body clothes.

Now I can hear you thinking, “take the specific clauses needed for castration and corporal punishment. Leave the rest.” That, my friend, is a slippery slope. Once we step on that, God only knows where we’ll end up, what with the morality police rising up time and again.

Flaw in our criminal justice system

The major flaw with our criminal justice system is that justice is either not delivered, or is so late and meagre that it feels more like a travesty than a cause for celebration. The colossal backlog in our courts ensures that even the (in)famous cases don’t get a speedy trial. And that’s despite the Lok Adalats and the fast-track courts.

What we need in our country is a speedy, non-corrupt justice system that delivers on the constitution’s guarantee to every citizen of India — a Right to live his/her life with dignity. If all cases, not just of violence against women, are solved in a limited timeframe, the fear of the Long Arm Of The Law will terrorize the lawless and ensure better social conditions for everyone. When politicians, influential people and their kin too are forced to face the consequences of their actions, perhaps we wouldn’t have people asking for such extreme measures.

What’s your take on the topic? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Image source: shutterstock

I'm a lecturer currently, having graduated in Electrical Engineering. I love reading, playing Badminton,

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1 Comment


  1. Mayank Pandey -

    Hello. I am Mayank Pandey.

    Let me, first, set my stand – No castration – Only Death Punishment.

    Now to the explanation. Justice, as a concept, is not delivered by the law. Justice should be defined as the feeling that the wronged person was given compensation that was their due and therefore are able to retain faith in a civilized society. Assume that I were a person and was repeatedly wronged by criminals and did not get justice at all. Why would I then follow the laws that do not protect me in anyway? I would myself break laws and go after the people who make my life living hell. It is this that has caused so many revolutions and uprisings to occur – people did not feel that the laws were just to them. So our assumption that our laws deliver justice is incorrect.

    Why Death Penalty? In cases of Murder, Rape and Terrorism I would argue for Death Penalty. The reasoning is that all parties involved must feel that the culprits have simply been neutralized and are no longer a threat to anybody. Life Imprisonment is a drain on our resources and chance of escape or parole remain. These crimes permanently alter the victim’s life and therefore anything less than death penalty is not justified. It is no easy way out and that argument is incorrect.

    To suggest that Man over-reaches his bounds by awarding the death penalty is also incorrect. If it were such a thing, then Man would never have been able to kill, just like Man cannot breathe in space or become invisible at will. But he is capable of killing and by suggesting that Capital punishment is an over-reach of natural order is factually incorrect.

    We must be dispassionate about the Death penalty. It is simply a way to ensure that the convicted can no longer take any action.

    To suggest that wrong people will get convicted is mixing two issues. If wrong people got convicted then surely the police and the judiciary failed badly and they should then be charged and convicted for it.

    Death Penalty for these crimes will have the desired effect. We should support death penalty for these crimes and take the stand which we feel is justified. We should not get pressured into conforming to a stand taken by some people seven seas to the West who have their own society and their own ideals – and their ideals are neither universally correct nor universally applicable.

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