Shame on our society!

The swingeing increase in crimes against women and children in Indian society flags our high tolerance for such brutality, something which should make us hang our heads in shame. We hear and read about women and children being raped and left for dead or murdered almost on a daily basis.

We do not, of course, condone such acts but the plain fact is that most of us tend to treat every incident of this type as yet another statistic of violence against women or children. At best, it might create a sinking feeling in some of us for a fleeting moment. Period.

Since incidence of molestation and rape has become a routine macabre affair, we seem inured to it and get on with our lives, until we or our near and dear ones become the victims. At least for once the youths across India have come out in the streets to register their anguish and anger at a heinous crime perpetrated against a Delhi girl in the national capital some days ago.

The gang-rape of the girl in a moving bus cries for stringent action, not just against her tormentors, but for all molesters and rapists, irrespective of their class, caste, religion or age. Just days after the Delhi gang-rape, I read reports of scores of such heinous crimes, including one rape case where a man raped his daughter and 70-year-old mother-in-law.

It may be noted that a vast majority of such incidents do not reach the court or are not reported lest the victims have to live with the stigma for the rest of their lives. The plain truth is that only by reacting furiously against molestation of any kind would there be any reduction in this crime.

Delhi is known as the rape capital of India, something that reflects badly on the security set-up presided over by the Ministry of Home Affairs.  The way the secretary at the Home Ministry praised the Delhi police force for acting swiftly grates on the nerves of any conscientious citizen of our country. The job of the police force is not just to act after the commitment of a crime but to take sufficient measures to forestall crimes as well.

What the people had expected was the rolling of heads at the top and a televised address by the prime minister promising to introduce a legislative measure with bite in parliament hand on fist. The suspension of a couple of low-level cops is little more than smoke and mirrors.

No doubt, the police force is undermanned but that is not the fault of the citizens. They expect sufficient police patrolling on the streets in cities, not least in the night. It is not right or practical to suggest that women should not travel after 9pm or 10pm in a society that espouses gender equality.

The Delhi protests are, no doubt, a reaction to the gang-rape of a student, but they are also against crimes against women and children anywhere in the country. We see children as young as two years become victims to the lust of some people. It may be better to introspect to see where we have gone wrong. Sure, our moral standards have declined to such an extent that some of us don't give a toss about the consequences when it comes to satiating the needs of our flesh.

Sure, we cannot sit pretty ruing the declining influence of moral values on our lives. We need to ensure that the culprit is punished severely. The Delhi protesters have demanded death penalty for the perpetrators and the government has all but agreed.

I do not think capital punishment would solve the problem. For one, the criminals would then see to it that the victim doesn't live to accuse him. For another, it is a relatively quick measure where the culprit may not go through much pain.  Even life sentence, which is already in prevalence, is not enough as there is every likelihood that the victim would be freed midstream for whatever reasons. I tend to go along with the suggestion that the guilty be subjected to chemical castration together with life imprisonment as it would be an enduring punishment even if he manages to get out of the clink.

Coming back to the unprecedented protests in Delhi, it is painful to see that they were hijacked by the political class as signalled by violence in the form of stone-throwing resulting in baton-charges by the police. This is what happens when a movement gets politicised. The moment you see footprints of political parties, the effect gets diluted. Politicians would naturally try to gain brownie points on the back of any uprising.

The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.


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