Rape is horrifying, and a fact whose only precedent is the statistics that say it is happening increasingly often all over the world. In India, rape cases shot up from 8,541 in 2012 to 19,765 in 2016, meaning that it’s more than doubled over the last 4 years.
After rape cases of minors under 12 had been reported, it was decided that enough was enough, and a new bill was passed in the Indian Parliament. Death sentences will now be handed out to rapists whose victims are less than 12 years old. At first glance, it seems to be a brutally efficient idea. It’s a clear warning on what the consequences will be, and one would think that it should work just fine.
This is where society and social structure comes into play. The patriarchy is still at large in the world, and India is no exception, especially in the rural areas. Women remain in their houses, and the only things they are allowed to do are cook, care for their children, keep the house spick and span, and act lovingly towards their husbands. They do not have a voice of their own, and many are led to believe that their lives have no meaning without a dominant male voice dictating their every step. When the women place so much trust in the men’s hands, rape turns out to have huge consequences. If the victims can brave the brutal words from their own families and friends saying that it is their own fault and get to the police station to lodge a complaint, they have to then prove it to the authorities there. It’s not hard to imagine how painful it would be to recount such a traumatising experience, especially if it’s to dubious officers.
If the rapist is convicted, it is the victim who has to go back and bare the brunt of the people around them. A rapist is still a human being with meaningful relationships with other people; those that refuse to believe such things about their friend, or sibling, or child. In their eyes, it is all the victim’s fault. Having lived in the shadows all your life, it is not easy to suddenly be launched into a hateful limelight, surrounded with condescending eyes and disbelieving looks. And this is a narrative that occurs commonly right now.
What will happen if the punishment is more severe than years in jail?
What if it’s a rape case where the victim knows the rapist? They may be forced to carry to guilt of having knowingly sent someone to their death, even if it was to protect themselves.
And this is why the death penalty for rapists is not black and white. In trying to protect the women and children, it may adversely affect them.
Do you guys have any alternative ideas for this situation? What do you think of the bill? Let me know in the comments!