Bill seeking death for rapist passed in the parliament on Monday this august 2018. From now onwards a rapist will be hanged to death if he found guilty of raping girls below 12 years. The bill called Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2018 replaced the ordinance previously promulgated by the central government in April, after the two incidents which shook the nation, the rape & afterwards murder of an eight year old girl in Kathua in the state of Jammu & Kashmir & rape of a teenager in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.
It was supported by almost everyone in the political fraternity which Lok Sabha cleared it in April and finally Rajya Sabha cleared it by voice vote on Monday, August as reported by PTI.
Highlights of the Bill:
- Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2018 will now award rigorous imprisonment of at least 20 years which can be extended to imprisonment for life or death to a rapist guilty of doing the inhumane act of raping a girl below 12 years of age.
- This bill will amend relevant sections of Indian penal code (IPC). The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) & also the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO Act) 2012.
- If a gang rape is done on a girl below 16 years of age then the imprisonment will be for the rest of convict’s life.
- Also the minimum punishment in cases of rape of women aged 16 to 18 or above has been increased to the rigorous imprisonment of 10 years, and a maximum or can be extended for life imprisonment.
- All police stations should be made available the Forensic kits for better investigation and forensic laboratories are proposed to be set up in all states and union territories
- A woman police officer should record the statement of the victim and the matter should be taken up by a woman judge in the court.
- It provides for speedy investigations and trial & time limit is given is that of two months for the investigations of all rape cases.
- In case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age the court has to give notice of 15 days to a public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding on bail applications.
But will Capital Punishment help curtail the incidents of child rape; this is the big question to be answered.
- Popular conception says death penalty a right step taken in this direction. A rapist must be hanged. Those committing the inhumane act of raping a minor have no right to live. So a stricter laws like death penalty is a right decision taken by government. It will instill fear in the mind of those committing this ill act.
- In the absence of a stricter & severe punishment persons involved in executing the heinous crime will continue in their act without the fear of law. So a stricter law has to be there to act as a deterrent.
- A severe stricter law will act as a deterrent for criminal & will generate fear in their heart before they even think about executing a heinous crime & It will also restore faith of the people in the law.
Now let’s see some facts about death penalty. Death penalty exists in India for murders. But did that stopped murderers from doing so?
More than 130 death sentence awarded by Indian court in the year 2016 but around 30,000 murders happened in that year. Plus there is a system of appeal & remission in our law so that year none of the convicted got hanged.
There more needs to be done than just making new laws.
Recently survey conducted by Thomson Reuter’s foundation has ranked India as world’s most dangerous country for women, even if this is not the reality it has become the perception. Though the quality & manner of survey is debatable but still the underlined statement shouldn’t be ignored.
counter views to the amendment
- If the maximum punishment same for rape & raping & then killing, the rapist would reason that by killing his victim he may never get caught. And that might lead to killing the victim. There are numerous instances of the perpetrators killing their victims, so stringent anti-rape laws are perceived not to be deterrents but measures that further instigate rapists to kill the victims.
- The assumption that the severe punishment in the law for the crime is enough for criminal to deter them from committing the crime is a highly contested one, given that brutal rapes in India have not decreased despite enforcement of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.
- In India, rape is already gets least reported mainly due to victim- blaming, social stigma, poor response by police and long processes in court. Lack of victim protection which makes them highly vulnerable to pressure from the accused. And when a case of children comes it often becomes more complex due to the pressure from family, society. Introduction of death penalty can further aggravate the pressure and might lead to a decrease in reporting of cases.
- The ‘Study on Child Abuse: India 2007’, published by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, shows that 72.1% of child respondents did not report sexual assault of penetrative form to anyone. One of the reasons is that mostly the perpetrator is a ‘known accused’. Now more pressure on the child to not report the crime given the death penalty in the system.
What needs to be done
- Highlights of the bill are carefully drafted and should be implemented in letter and spirit. Judicial process should be swifter.
- Police should show more sensitivity towards victims of rape.
- One stop crisis centers needed in large numbers.
- Proper victim and witness protection needed so that they do not become vulnerable to outside pressure.
Reforms in Police system in handling out these cases are needed. Rape is an intensely personal crime and that not one that is easy to share. Also societal attitude towards the rape victims creates psychological problems for her in the family and friends.
A woman who has gone through such a traumatic experience needs social and emotional support. Unless these all are done this traumatic issue is hard to address.