The moment I reflect on the young girl, combating her life after six men in Delhi raped her and assaulted her male companion, I too crave for justice – a soul part of me would like them to suffer as much as they made that woman suffer.
However the more I ponder; I am unable to want that kind of retribution that bestows death penalty for rapists. Firstly, there is no evidence to suggest that the death penalty will act as prevention.
Let’s take this into thought; throughout the month before the atrocious gang-rape, a number of rapes were reported through various other newspapers from the states of Delhi and Haryana. The cases included the rape of a five-year-old girl by a local temple priest, the rape of a nine-year-old by an elderly neighbor, the rape of a 70-year-old woman in Haryana by a young close relative. These occurrences if carefully researched — girls and women raped by neighbours, relatives, people who know them — are far more widespread than the gang-rapes.
The well-liked view of death penalty would send many fathers, brothers and neighbours behind bars too since rapists are known to victims in most cases – not by strangers.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau data for 2011, most rapes are not committed by strangers. These statistics have been remarkably consistent over the years: you can say with confidence that on average, over 80 per cent of rape cases in India are committed by people known to the victim, from their local neighbourhoods — perfectly ordinary uncles and brothers, fathers, teachers etc.
What about custodial rapes, and rapes by army officers and military workforce - shouldn’t the death penalty be relevant to them as well?
Accordingly if we all agree that the death penalty should apply to rapists, we should then be consistent about it. The people who will be hanged, more than 80 per cent of the time, won’t be strangers but local shopkeepers, tutors, friends of the family. It’s going to be a long line-up of recognizable faces.
Will hanging the familiar ones address the clear and present need to examine how violence works inside our own homes, within our own families?
All we want is justice and this assault on women to conclude. I know that I want my daughter, and every young girl in India, to mature without the fear that trails our generation of women today. There is no use of fighting over better working conditions for women if they still went back to face cruelty and fear in their own homes, where they should have felt safe and free in the first place.