Why does punishment not fit the crime?

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This appeared in the Hinustan Times

It’s become very fashionable to discuss the issue of women’s safety these days. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Dialogue and discussion are always the precursors to change.
Not denial.
Yet, it’s denial we seem to be in. The women chief ministers of the two states that have been in the news lately, clearly are. According to them, there’s nothing amiss in the attitude of the administration vis-à-vis the security and safety of women. They, in fact, place the onus of protecting themselves on the women. Women must not go out after dark. They must dress conservatively.
They must not indulge in any activity that might raise the hackles of the moral police, including, but not limited to, the consumption of alcohol.

Because if the women don’t conduct themselves in accordance with these `rules’, then the state cannot protect them -a rather convenient abdication of the responsibility of protecting half the country’s population. Interesting, the concepts of freedom and democracy the State propagates.

To be fair, the State cannot possibly post policemen at every corner. There is no preventive mechanism to check crimes against women, sexual or otherwise. Specially when there exist certain people in our society who think it’s their birthright to tease, grope, molest and rape women. What, then, is the State to do?

The issue of why certain men (I think it’s unfair to paint all men with the same brush) behave the way they do is a complex one. The shroud of anonymity crowds offer makes this behaviour worse. All women have been touched inappropriately in crowded places like buses, railway stations, places of worship -the list is endless. Some have been raped and then killed. Many of us have been victims of teasing bordering on hooliganism. I can personally recall at least two dozen such incidents, the last one at the time of boarding the Shatabdi Express a month ago. The rich and poor are victims alike. So are filmstars, entourage notwithstanding.
What happened in Mumbai and later in Gurgaon on two separate New Year’s Eves was downright shameful.

At which point in history did this start? Women have certainly been humiliated and ill-treated for a very long time. Could it perhaps have to do with our patriarchal culture? If not killed before being born, girls live a secondrate life even within their own family.
Even mothers give their sons preference over their own daughter in everything, be it food or pocket money. What do you expect boys from such families to grow up thinking about women?

While the State may not be able to prevent these crimes, how it punishes the perpetrators can influence whether such crimes occur in the future. And with that the ball is back, firmly, in the State’s court.

Why are rapists out on bail? So that they can rape again? (As in the call-centre employee rape case in Delhi).
Section 376 of the IPC provides for a maximum sentence of life-imprisonment for rape.

Why such few convictions, then? Why can’t fast-track courts be set up? The questions can go on and on.

I don’t have the answers. But I can question the apathy. You can question the apathy. We can start a dialogue that will eventually bring in that change. I think that’s the least we can do.

Source: Hindustan Times

5 Comments on “Why does punishment not fit the crime?”

  1. Jigar Doshi

    a very valid point, miss gul. “the shroud of anonymity the crowds offer makes this behaviour worse” and “how it punishes the perpetrators can influence whether such crimes occur in the future.”

    hope, the number of crimes on women become nil as early as possible. 🙂

  2. aman

    awesome..nice post…keep up the good work..

  3. Prerna Sharma

    Very apt Gul.I think the reason for the mindset is patriarchy,it enters our minds from everyday acts in the family and we all accept it without questioning.
    Sometimes I wonder how can someone rape? it is the lowest level of morality that someone can go to a more easy answer I find is that because they know that they can get away with it.

  4. Ripon

    Very good post Gul.
    Perhaps behind every unjust activity in our society there is a bit of tolerance involved on our part. Be it crime against women or corruption or anything. We don’t openly protest unless we are the victims. Possibly we need an attitude change!

  5. ruchira

    So very true!! And the question,”How can someone rape?” only comes to people who are capable of having a normal sense and are still human. And the ones who derive pleasure in such inhuman acts are simply below the normal human race!!!But ya, we should not term these “social germs” as animals and degrade the simple and decent actual four legged creatures.. I appreciate our neighbor country’s policy of “to be hanged till death” for the “rapist”.. High time we too should follow it as no other punishment can justify such brutality…N hopefully after few years we can have a sigh of relief here in Delhi!!

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