IANS | Feb 3, 2013, 10.46 AM IST

Veteran actress Sharmila Tagore opposed capital punishment for rape saying death is neither the ultimate punishment nor a deterrent.“I don’t think death the ultimate punishment. It is not a deterrent because when the person is committing the crime, he thinks that he is not going to be caught.”

“In southern states of America where death penalty exists there is the highest crime rate there, so it is not really a deterrent. Rigorous imprisonment for entire life is a better way of punishing somebody,” said the actress at a literary meet.

Speaking at the discussion on ‘Will Capital Punishment for Rape Help or Hinder Justice?‘, Sharmila felt that the report by the Justice J.S. Verma committee which was constituted following the Delhi gang-rapeincident Dec 16 to look into rape laws was “wonderful” and had tried “to engage with the problem”.

“At least Justice Verma has touched and tried to engage with the problem, and has heard the hurt, sentiment and the rage with the youth.”

“But of course they have stepped back from passion and have covered this in this wonderful report desisting from the death penalty which is taking somebody’s life which is coming from the point of thinking that the state must establish an ethical standard of public morality because state cannot take somebody’s life,” she said.

However, Sharmila also felt the report was silent on issues like the three-month trial period demanded by women rights groups.

Praising the amendments that have been brought about in laws pertaining to women, she said: “They have taken away this cuddly, protectionist language and they are no longer calling it eve teasing or outrage to modesty or any of those awfully inadequate words. So the language is changing and they are calling rape as a rape.”

But the real focus, according to her, should be on changing the mindset of people that sees women as “repositories of honour”.

Touching on the social aspect, she said that there is a “business of shame and honour” which people associate with it.

“Rape happens within the family-it is your father, it is your brother, your uncle, neighbours and relatives. So how many people are you going to kill so it is just not practical.

“And then this shame and honour business which we all have got into and yes we are part of that patriarchy. Police is also part of that patriarchy,” said Tagore.