Our animalistic modern India
After the horrific Nirbhaya gang-rape case that shook the capital and the rest of the country in December 2012, many believed that the public outrage and subsequent condemnation of the act would change the fate of women living in India. However, not much seems to have altered. The National Crime Records Bureau Data shows, that in 2015 the total number of registered rape cases across the country amounted to 34,651. A glaring reminder that despite modernity and progress in economic growth, the fate of women living in the country continues to be eroded by the animalistic tendencies of men. Rape is the worst kind of attack on human integrity and privacy. Its brutality which irrevocably scars the victim both physically and mentally has far-reaching consequences that make rape a far more threatening crime than even murder, in many cases. Yet, the slow pace of the judicial hearing process and the corruption that pervades through our system has given a clean chit to many perpetrators who now walk around freely in the streets of our country—without apology or remorse. Turning tables, the Madhya Pradesh cabinet passed a convincing bill that will be heard as the assembly comes into session during this week. The state has proposed death penalty for perpetrators who rape children below the age of 12 and for culprits of gang-rape cases. Rape in its entirety is horrific, and it is agonizing to distinguish its brutality with age or circumstance. Yet, we must. Raping children and organising gang rapes impinge upon ethics even more strongly than rape already does. It is unfortunate that in our society, today, we are witnessing growing numbers of cases of sexual abuse against children which has compelled the judiciary and legislation to understand that this offence is more offensive than adult rape—which is harrowing enough already. Madhya Pradesh, in the last decade has witnessed an upsurge in the cases of rape and sexual abuse. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had earlier too come out and spoken aggressively, proposing the use of capital punishment for this heinous crime. Now, his ministry is set to turn this thought into reality. Capital punishment in India is reserved for select crimes—murder, gang robbery with murder, abetting cases of suicide for children and the mentally ill, abetting mutiny by a member of the armed forces, waging war against the government and circumstantial punishment in certain anti-terror laws. The courts in India generally spell out life imprisonment even for murders, unless they are classified as brutal and 'rarest of the rare'. Rape is a 'rarest of the rare' impingement upon human dignity. Despite its rampancy in our country today, its essence as a rare and condemnable offence cannot be overlooked. Madhya Pradesh's proposal to take cognizance of the offence and met out adequate capital punishment is being applauded as a step in the right direction. However, given the stubbornness of the average Indian male and their refusal to learn from mistakes, this death penalty could have negative consequences too. As pointed out by certain ministers in the Chouhan cabinet, the prevalence of a death sentence for rape of a minor or gang rape may compel the perpetrator to take the life of the victim, altogether. This is a valid hesitance and again spells out the shameful condition of our country today. To cover up a crime, criminals are willing to commit further offences rather than realising and repenting the consequences of the first. Capital punishment by itself has also been brought under public scanner. It is understood by many as a primitive method of justice, not suitable for the modern world. However, neither is committing rape a tendency suitable for the modern senses. It is far more primitive, animalistic, and inhuman than capital punishment. To treat perpetrators of this heinous crime, for an average citizen, the most heinous way is probably the right way. Despite repeated debate, public discourse and condemnation of the act it continues to flourish only because despite living in the modern world, we Indians haven't learnt to control our primate desires of lust and hunger. Sometimes to tackle the enemy, you must speak in the enemy's language. While these thoughts emerge out of a deep-rooted anger towards offensive patriarchy ruling the contemporary world, a more suitable approach matching modern sensibilities is always rehabilitation. It is an undisputed challenge to track lost cases whose minds have been chewed upon by evil incarnation. This is possibly the biggest challenge of modern civil society, to strike a balance between the primitive and the modern. To not discard the primitive—even in its harsh exterior, the task is to be able to embrace it and uplift it from its pitiful condition. While philosophically sound, practically it is daunting, because the other aspect of modern life is a paucity of time. Though capital punishment, if meted out on time and holistically without favours, is a step that could instill fear, it still does little to tackle the problem of lust. Rather than raping children below 12, the filthy perpetrator will find solace in harassing someone above 13. The mind of the average Indian has to developed—not just by punishment but by pervasive policy making. By increasing tolerance, improving acceptance and controlling desires.