Haryana has now become the third state in India to make provisions for awarding child rapists the death penalty. The provision has yet again given rise to questions on how effective capital punishment is in curbing crimes. A study, ‘Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence In the Death Penalty’, compared the amount of violence in American states with and without the death penalty and failed to find a deterrent effect. But there is also no evidence to say that capital punishment does not motivate perpetrators to consider the gravity of their actions.
Castration or capital punishment?
Many people argue that instead of capital punishment, methods like chemical or physical castration should be used to punish perpetrators
In numerous countries, sex offenders are offered the option to undergo chemical or physical castration. Many offenders do opt for such measures, because they realise the gravity of their crimes. But in Indian sensibilities, manhood comes above everything else for average Indian males. There is slim chance that child rapists in India would volunteer for castration.
Also, we have heard of many heart wrenching ordeals where rapists use objects like iron rods, bare hands or glass bottles to commit rape. Making a man physically incapable of rape is not possible as long as he has his hands and his mind. What do we do then? Chop off his hands or lobotomise him? Put him in the as jail or asylum, and feed and clothe him with our money, hoping that he would get magically cured of his abominations?
The scare of capital punishment might propel many offenders to ending the lives of their victims, to cover their tracks
If a man is cruel enough to violate a minor, he won’t think twice before killing him or her, just to save his own skin. But there is another aspect we need to debate here. That of the fear of repercussions.
Crime usually decreases when criminals fear repercussions
Most sexual crimes in India still happen because rapists and abusers are unwary of the consequences of their actions
Our inability to report crimes against children due to social stigma, and slow rate of convictions further fuel the audacity of rapists. It also trivialises the issue for most criminals. Thus when a crime brings in capital punishment, it might stimulate offenders to start questioning the severity and heinousness of their actions.
The problem in our country is that we all have a very low confidence in our law enforcement and justice system. Also, we lack will to commit to protection of our children. It’s not exactly our problem, as long as it’s not our child. But this approach is slowly changing, with rising awareness about the extent to which children in India are susceptible to sexual crimes. Increasing social vigilance and enforcement of law and order will in usher in much more positive changes than capital punishment.
Also, researchers need to keep a close eye on rate of sexual crimes committed against children in the three states which have passed bills to award capital punishment to child rapists. Similarly, we need indepth analysis of prevalence of sexual crime against children in our country. A concrete solution to this menace is not possible unless we understand all its aspects.
Eventually our aim is to create a vigilant and empathetic society with concentration on prevention of crime, rather than punishment
But even if such things happen, there is no guarantee that sexual crimes against children will come to an end. So, until we have a tried and tested ways which assures us that rapists won’t go back to their old ways, or we succeed socially and legally in taking effective measures to prevent sexual crimes against children, capital punishment is justified for child rapists. A dead child rapist is better than a rapist sitting in jail, who might come out someday and target other children.
Picture Credits: IndiaTimes
Also Read: Children of Both Genders are Equally Vulnerable to Sexual Assault
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.