Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Yes – hang them till death

Delhi's crime problem is spiralling out of control. The heinous sexual assault of a woman on December 16, 2012, witnessed one of the biggest spontaneous outburst of public anger since Independence, sans any kind of leadership, against a somnolent government on an issue that is still considered a taboo.
It is a sad reflection that once again the National Capital's explosive crime rate has become a cause for national shame and tumult.
The brutality of the incident moved people to the streets to voice their protest against a crime for which even the death sentence seems less. The message that the widespread protests across the country is not a passing phase is loud and clear for the keepers of law and order in the country.
I think the brazenness of sexual assaults like the Delhi incident stem from the fact that conviction rates in India remain abysmally low. If a perpetrator knows that his chances of going to jail are slim, he is less likely to be deterred than if he knew that his chances of going to jail were high and punishment would be severe. In 1973, about 44% of alleged perpetrators of rape were convicted. By 2010, that percentage had dropped to just over 26%.
Renuka Narayanan in a recent article recalled the incident involving two soldiers of the President’s Bodyguard who got life terms by Delhi High Court for outraging the modesty of a 17-year-old girl at the Buddha Jayanti Park in 2003. To quote from the news report: “They were military men in uniform and in broad day light committed rape of a young girl, who was completely helpless before them. They have exhibited moral turpitude of extreme depravity by subjecting the teenage prosecutrix to rape and making her a victim of their physical lust,” the court said, sentencing Harpreet Singh and Satyender Singh to life sentence.
“Both of them are more than six feet tall and well built. Instead of defending and protecting the public, they have committed an offence which does not deserve any soft or lenient approach. Their sentences under section 376(2)(g) are confirmed,” the court said.
The interesting part of this movement is that the youth who gathered is not driven by any political party nor for any personal cause. They were there for one cause as they feel that what happened in Delhi on December 16, 2012, could happen to anybody or any of them as well.
The government's ostrich like attitude is only messing up things further. I fail to understand why the government is still taking the stand that the law will take its own course. A senior minister made a statement that they are planning to have a separate law for extreme rape cases come out with strict punishment. There cannot be a more foolish statement than this which tries to measure the quality of rape.
It is time that we all join hands with those who have left behind the comforts of their homes to come out in the open in Delhi's chill to gather at the Raisina Hills to demand exemplary punishment - “hanged till death” - for the rapists. Public opinion can move mountains and change regimes. Let this spark fire our zeal to seek speedy justice. India has spoken, I hope the powers that be have heard.
ess bee

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