Is rape treated as political weapon?
Updated: Nov 21, 2020
10th November 2020
On March 20, 2020, at 5.30 a.m., the nation awaited the death of the four victims of the Nirbhaya case. Seven years after the heinous crime of gang rape committed by the four men- Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26), and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) – it seemed like justice was being served.
Since the Nirbhaya case in 2012, a lot of changes were brought into the Indian judicial system. The government had suggested all kinds of measures besides the Anti-rape legislation. Similarly, the Hathras rape case received a lot of media attention. But the reality is that it is doubtful whether the same attention will ever be paid to a less high-profile rape case in the country. However, the anger and mood of the nation after the Delhi or Hathras gang rape did not affect the pronouncement. The cases are dealt with according to every legal procedure, which is essential in a country that has been accused of corruption and prolonging every case for endless days. Politicians and influential public figures in our country have veraciously advocated hanging of the convicts of not just this case but every other high profile rape case. However, they seem to choose their spotlight and speak only when they think the case is big enough.
Protestors asking for justice for Kathua and Unnao rape cases (Source- Global Citizen)
Among the few closely followed cases in India's history, these cases seem to have at least conclude, unlike innumerable others. There are numerous cases in our country whose judgment has been prolonged or unjust. The sad part being- most of these cases go unnoticed by mainstream media.
How rare is gang rape followed by murder in our country? The Union law ministry has collected data from different high courts on all pending rape cases across the country, including children. A study that compared the date reported between March 2018 and December 2019 shows that pending cases related to rape and the cases registered under the Protection of Children against Sexual Offence (POSCO) Act have increased by over 77,000 from 1,66,882 to 2,44,001. UP and MP have shown a rise in pendency cases by 80%, whereas Delhi has shown phenomenal growth of about 353% despite the fact that many fast track courts are working on disposing of the pendency. Has anyone thought about what is happening or what happens to the numerous culprits who are either free or just in prison? The Soumya murder case of 2011 was quite similar, where a 23-year-old girl was raped and murdered on a train. The convict was sentenced to life imprisonment, but the case never seemed to get this much media attention or rage of the common people. Rape cases in our country have demarcations as to which one can be high profile and which one fades in the files. There are so many gang rape and murder cases happening every day in our country, then why are only four of them being hanged? Why don't we hear a clamour for the death penalty of Asifa's rapists? Maybe this is what we are shown as justice being served, whereas all that is happening is power manipulating the idea of justice and certain people's plight to win over the masses.
In the words of Jan Van Rooyen, "[The death penalty] is a cheap way for politically inclined people to pretend to their fearful constituencies that something is done to combat crime." Today, a lot of politicians, including our honourable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, consider the execution of the four rapists of the Nirbhaya rape case an achievement, but if I may ask, what does the Modi government have in mind for the rapists of the Kathua case or the Unnao rape case? To all those people who rejoiced the death of the four culprits, did it change the status of women's rights and safety in the country?
It is often believed that the public opinion and want for justice results in governments taking decisions like death penalties. Many governments, including ours, do not leave any stone unturned to promote this erroneous belief even though there is no evidence to support this idea but enough to go against it. However, the decision to execute someone is not in the people's hands but by the respective governments. For this reason, the governments must first realise the lives of criminals is not their weapon of propaganda or a sceptre to power they can wield accordingly. If they believe that all rape victims should be punished, let it be the same for all and not a chosen few. If this is their definition of justice, every rape victim deserves it.
Often sentiments rule the minds in such cases, but it is for the society to decide. Power takes advantage of sentiments in this country. Before we even realize, our plea for justice becomes somebody else's hidden motive. Justice is what the system needs to offer and not use it as a tool to deceive the masses.
(Source- The Guardian, The Hindu, The Print)
Edited by- Arjun Rohit Vikraman