Death and debate
With Delhi high court upholding death penalty for the four adult convicts in the 16 December gang rape and murder case, there is a ring of penultimate finality to the campaign for the 23-year-old paramedic who lost her life fighting for justice. The heinousness of the crime called into question attitudes towards women, which, despite spruced up laws, can only be termed medieval at best. The HC bench rightly observed that the crime committed by the four falls in the ‘rarest of rare’ category, not only because of its extreme brutality, but also because it shocked the collective conscience of the nation and precipitated a countrywide protest that forced authorities to act and bolster the anti-rape law. In this context, only the harshest of punitive measure could be expected to set a precedent and also act as a deterrent to such offences in future. Even as debate on whether or not capital punishment should be abolished altogether rages, it is only appropriate that a crime as reprehensible and morally unconscionable is dealt with effectively, to drive home a message that such barbarism wouldn’t be tolerated in a civilised society. Yet it’s equally true that 16 December incident hasn’t stopped rapes, gang rapes and brutal murders from happening, particularly in the urban centres. That said, it is a good sign that crimes against women are at least getting registered, be it Tehelka editor sexually assaulting his junior colleague, or the migrants convicted for 16 December fatal gang rape.