Ideally death penalty should not have a place in a civilised society but when the society repeatedly fails to protect women and children, fails to arrest and punish the rapists and rallies are taken in support of rapists, death penalty definitely can act as a deterrent.
Rape is a heinous crime, where not only the body is violated but the victim is emotionally scarred for years. It is not just mere physical assault but the victim has to also live the mental trauma through her/his life and face the judgemental questions hurled by the society. Many a times it is the victim who is blamed for the incident rather than the actual perpetrator of crime. The victim is often questioned about the circumstances leading to the rape.
This victim blaming further emboldens the rapists to repeat the crime without fear or hesitation. Reports of rape videos recorded and circulated in parts of North India points to the depravity and pervertness involved in the crime.
What happened with Nirbhaya was inhuman and beastly. Inspite of all the candle light marches and outrage, the situation has further deteriorated with a sharp increase in the number of rapes. Kids as young as 4 months are raped, their bodies mutilated and are left to die. Children and women live under a constant fear knowing well that anyone can be the victim of the perverts. Moreover the incidents of rape are now being communalised, the outrages are selective and whataboutery rules the mindset of many.
The Unnao And Kathua rapes have demonstrated how these incidents can be politically misused, aiding the perpetrators shield behind communal politics.
Safety is the fundamental right which the state has to provide to children and women folk. When this right is violated repeatedly it becomes the responsibility of the state to enforce strictest of laws and penalties, if that could act as deterrants.
Delhi rape case shocked the nation leading to a massive movement. People from all walks of life were on streets demanding strict punishment to the rapists and measures to provide safety to the female population.
But sadly after the initial momentum not much changed, rather the incidents of rape and harassment have increased. Not denying that better law and order will aid in controlling the rapes but until we are able to do that we can’t just let this crime go unabated. There is definitely an urgent need to send a strong message to the rapists. Under these circumstances the Supreme Court rightly upheld the death penalty of the convicted rapists. Activists who have worked on Nirbhaya case have welcomed the judgement, although it took almost five years for it to be delivered.
For the family fighting for justice, it was a long and hard struggle wherein they had to live not only with the pain of losing Nirbhaya, but also with the uncertainty about the fate of the perpetrators of the crime. This judgement gives a closure to their struggle and pain. It also gives hope that the death penalty will act as a deterrent and would save the life and honour of many other Nirbhayas. Even a small flicker of hope can go a long way in fighting the menace of rape, lest it becomes too late.
While we welcome the Supreme Court decision, let us also not forget that death penalty alone cannot control the rapes. We need to work on changing the mentality of the society, stop turning a blind eye to incidents of eve teasing, stalking and harassment even when it is done publicly.
Boys from a young age need to be taught to respect the honour and space of girls. Instead of controlling the movement of the girls, it is the boys who should be controlled from a young age. Small steps though, these will certainly go a long way in protecting our daughters. Last but not the least and most importantly stop politicising rapes, stop whataboutery about it. Rape as a crime should be condemned unequivocally, without any ifs and buts.