Let me generalise things to start the conversation and to understand the larger picture. We have a society which rapes at a rapid rate of a rape per 22 minutes, and it is the same society which goes down the street demanding death, castration and every possible barbarian punishments for the rapists, and celebrates death sentences by the court. It must be hard to comprehend. Well, a complex phenomenon cannot be comprehended in a simple sentence- we require complex sentences and few reality checks to understand.
I am not trying to blame each and every individual or trying to paint them all in the same colour. It simply disturbs me when everybody around me demands for a death sentence for every rape case, as if it is the highest punishment. How can it be a punishment when the culprit is not even present for the consequences! But that’s a different question altogether. What I object is to giving too much importance to the criminal and not to the survivor. This is one of the major problems we are facing in our part of the world and not even trying to tackle it. This shift in focus can do wonders, and may be critical in creating a better future.
The recent rape cases which were given high priority in Indian media have been quite sensational in nature. It seemed as if we have few jingoists as the Chief Editors of major news channels. The enthusiasm they showed in covering the judgement seemed as if this is the end of the culture of rape! But voila- here we are, with more news of rapes all around us.
The society has a culture of rape, and it is not accepting it. It is simply playing the blame game. It believes that a death sentence will end the problem. This is foolish to think, and sadly our judicial system is also promoting this thought. I do not know what must be done with the rapists. That is not a point of focus to me. What I am really concerned of, is if our society can accept the rape survivors as active members of the social functioning, can help in healing the wounds by not making an issue out of it and can simply act as a friend to the survivor. Sadly all this seems alien in near future. We need few changes in the approach we try to see things with. Rapists or assaulters must be seen as humans rather than demons. Making a demon out of a rapist or an assaulter simply alienates them from the society and creates an illusion of non-presence of the culture of rape from the society. This must be done away with.
The punishment is a problem. Death is not an end to the larger problems. Yes, it acts like Saridonwhen the body faces a headache. But headache is a symptom and not a disease. Avoiding symptoms invites serious problems in the future.
Let us face problems as they are and not try to take shortcuts!
This article was first published in Youth Ki Awaaz on September 29, 2013