Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Some thoughts on Death Penalty for Rape

As always, Twitter has been having a heated debate on why the death penalty should and should not be awarded to rapists/rapist-murderers. All the while, opponents of death penalty have been harping on a single point - that awarding the death penalty would not be a major deterrent, if at all, in preventing rapes and that it would only serve to increase rape-deaths, i.e. murdering a rape victim after the rape to wipe out proof. Fair enough.

As far as my opinion on the Death Penalty goes, I would say I am somewhere between right of centre and centre of right (assuming far right means strong approval of death penalty). Now that we have got that out of our way, next question - why not death for rapists?

India has, since time immemorial, been a country where women have accorded their chastity a higher position than their life itself. Now this concept of "chastity" might have become a very subjective term these days, what with all kinds of women laying claim to it, indeed, interpreting it to one's own convenience/understanding. I will not go into the details of this and, like religion Hinduism itself, I will let it remain a "to each his own" issue.

Coming back to our topic, I am not even sure that chastity is an issue when it comes to rapes and even if it is, how much. Nevertheless, whether or not chastity is an issue, a woman has every right in the world to oppose someone trying to indulge in sexual activities with her. Heck, even saying this statement makes me feel terribly dumb - I mean, it's almost like "We as human beings have every right to not wake up in the morning at 8 AM".

My point on chastity was simply to drive in the point that ours is has been a culture that terribly values it and how, in the days gone by, women have preferred to put an end to their life rather than live life after having lost it. I reiterate that I am unaware of the extent of the prevalence of this philosophy today.

So then why not death penalty to rapists? Take this most recent and ultra-hyped gang rape of the Delhi girl in a bus. I wouldn't want to go into the gory details - but suffice to say that it is more macabre than anything you could imagine as being part of a city's (let alone capital of a country) day-to-day existence. What else can you think of but the death penalty for such elements? They dont deserve to be part of even a jail society. You see, in such cases, I care lesser about whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent for rapes and more about simply the fact that THESE INHUMAN BEINGS DONT DESERVE TO LIVE. If you have a death penalty in your law and you use it for the rarest of rare crimes (which typically includes some kind of killing), rapists need to be hanged.

Bhoomi Devi would be better off not having to bear the burden of such souls.

I am not particularly a "humanist" (assuming that means someone in love with humanity). I would like to think I view life, that too of human beings, as something as common and as special as anything else nature has offered to us. Human life isn't a big deal. I obviously care for lives of my loved ones, mine and of course, life of good people and innocents. But beyond that, at least at this point of time, I dont think the human life is a particularly valuable asset for the world. If you live, there must be a premium to it. The least you can do is to not cause immense damage to other leaving creatures (partial damage. though not acceptable, is tolerable).

More than the actual act of the rape, I believe the thought process behind it deserves the severest of punishments. The attitude which makes you view women as a mere object meant for your gratification, bereft of the most basic of respects to be accorded as a fellow human being. Under the influence of alcohol or not, I'd be less worried if I knew there was one less psycopath on the prowl for the women...of my city, my state, my country or simply, the world, to face.
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