- In April 2018, Indian government approved the ordinance for awarding death penalty for rapists of girls below 12 years of age.
- This decision is taken because public were outraged at the brutal rape and murder of an 8 year-old girl child.
Points in favor of death penalty for child rape :-
- Sexual violence on children is on the rise these days. Death penalty instills fear and can deter the crimes.
- Rapes of minors is different from the rapes of adults. Children who faced sexual harassment are not capable of dealing with the trauma. Child victims will have the emotional pain and trauma throughout their life. It will impact their ability to do well in their life and relationships. Hence, child rapists do not deserve to live.
- If someone is committed heinous crime such as raping an innocent child, he/she is not reformable and will be a threat to other children too. Hence eliminating the criminal from our society with death penalty will save society.
Points in against to death penalty for child rape :-
- Rapists may kill their victims after the crime, because the punishment for both rape and murder are now same.
- Human rights organizations worldwide terms death penalty as draconian.
- Imprisonment till death too will serve the purpose of saving society from these rapists. It was not proved in anywhere in the world that death sentence is a better deterrent than life imprisonment.
- It is taking years to solve and do justice to the victims of rape. If the punishment is death penalty, cases may be dragged even longer, because if the accused is falsely convicted, innocent life will be lost.
- Conviction rate in rape cases is already low. Death penalty may further lower the conviction rate.
- In 95% of the child rapes, accused is a known person to the victim. The perpetrator of the crime happens to be a family member or relative or a closed one in many cases. Death penalty may discourage them to file the case. At present, only a few rape cases are reported in police station. Capital punishment may worsen the situation.
- Punishments in a civilized society should not be awarded to take revenge. Rather they should be able to deter crimes, reform the criminal and to protect society from them.
- Nirbhaya Act, 2013 is already stringent. But there are loopholes in implementation. Without fixing the loopholes, increasing the severity of punishment will be of no use.
- What happens if any innocent is accused falsely, and death penalty is awarded to him? We cannot bring his life back when his innocence is proved.
- As per Nirbhaya Act, 2013, death penalty is already there in rarest of rare cases. Severity of punishment should be based on the brutality of the crime.
- Only girl child victims are mentioned in the ordinance, but male children are also vulnerable to rapes.
- Victims may face even more pressure and threats to withdraw the case.
- Rich and powerful can afford good lawyers and may escape from the punishment whereas poor cannot do that.
So, what is the solution :-
Death penalty may not deter the crimes because there are many underlying issues that are leading to sexual violence. Multi-pronged approach is needed to save society from this menace. A combination of both preventive measures and stringent punishments can reduce sexual crimes.
- The main cause of deviant behaviour is lack of moral values. Children should be taught ethics and values from the young age. Parents and education system should take this responsibility.
- Gender sensitization programs should be conducted at every place.
- India is still a patriarchal society. Men here are taught to be tough and over-powering. Because of this attitude, some people think that they are superior to women.
- Many families do not want to report rape because they think that it is a harm to their family honor. A positive environment should be created where victim is not blamed.
- In India, sexual needs are not discussed openly. There is a lack of sex education. When there are no right sources, young people will get influenced by porn or adult websites. This needs to be addressed. They should be taught that intercourse should happen with the consent of both.
- FIR should be filed when a rape is reported and evidences should be collected immediately. If police do not follow this, they should be punished.
- Victims should have access to women police officers to tell their case. More women should be recruited in police forces.
- Police should be trained to communicate with the victims.
- Victims should be protected from further threats and harassment.
- Investigation should involve better technology and intelligence. Infrastructure should be improved.
- Easy access to alcohol is also one of the reasons for increasing crimes.
- Graded punishments can help in deterring crimes. Punishments should be based on the brutality of the crimes. It is best to leave the severity of punishments to the discretion of courts, because each case is different and punishments cannot be generalized.
The main cause for the increasing child rapes is low conviction rate. Rape cases are pending in courts for years. By fixing all the loopholes in the process of investigation, government should take steps to provide speedy justice. Death penalty may not solve the problem. Rather, speedy conviction will deter crimes and can instill fear in the perpetrators of crime.
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