AIDWA thinks that the present ordinance of the Cabinet introducing death penalty for rape of children below 12 years is not going to prevent such crimes and is merely a ploy to cover up the total failure of the government
to properly implement existing laws on child rape
In particular, the ordinance seeks to cover up the deliberate delay and inaction by the BJP
government in both the horrific Kathua
and Unnaocases, in which the rapists
acted with complete impunity as they were in a position of power.In the Unnao
case, the police
did not register an FIR and arrest the guilty MLA
and others because of their political influence.They acted on the behest of the MLA of the BJP and arrested the girl’s fatherand killed him.In the Kathua case again the blatant political backing of the perpetrators almost helped them to escape. Significantly, the police has left many loopholes in the charge sheet and has not even applied the POCSO.Both cases thus involved a completebreakdown of law and order and a culture of impunity for those in positions of power
AIDWA thinks that death sentence has never proved to be a deterrent and in fact can be counter-productive.We have repeatedly said that the certainty of punishment is a better deterrent than the severity of it. Crime bureau statisticsshow that the rate of conviction in child rape cases is abysmally low. This is because of glaring defects in the manner in which the crimes are investigated and the trial is conducted. Important evidence is not collected and the protocols which are supposed to be followed by the police during investigation are bypassed. Instead of insuring that those guilty of the crime are brought to justice, the government has introduced this populist measure to try to show that they are concerned.
Apart from not proving to be a deterrent to perpetrators of the crime, death penalty can actually act as a deterrent on judges, who will hesitate to deliver guilty verdicts awarding death sentences
. Death sentences are also often arbitrarily given and studies have shown that the marginalized and poor sections of society are the majority awardees of the death sentence. While quite often the powerful and the influential escape it.Also in cases of child sexual abuse the majority of those implicated in the crime are known to the family or are related persons and neighbours.Families might be hesitant to report if death penalty is going to be awarded.
Apart from this as a long term measure and in a patriarchal society
like ours we have to try to educate our youth about treating women as equal humanbeings and not objects and awareness about women’s rights must be a part of the agenda of any government.
In a typically authoritarian manner, the BJP government has introduced this ordinance without consulting different sections of society, women’s organisations and child right groups. Therefore AIDWA demands an immediate withdrawal of the ordinance and strict, proper implementation of the existing laws so that justice may be ensured for raped women and children.