Sunday, January 06, 2013

Does Rape Merit The Death Penalty?


This is a horrible rape case-- some Saudi air force pilot stationed at San Antonio-Lackland, ground zero for the U.S. military's rape scandal and a horrendous coverup being orchestrated by House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon. Horrendous, yes. But worthy of the death penalty? Not to my mind.

I just got back from nearly a month in India and the big story dominating the news there for the entire month was the brutal gang rape and murder of 23-year old Indian medical student. Now that's a rape that deserves the death penalty. Virtually all the India women's groups agitating for social change based on the incident-- and on a culture of rape in their country-- oppose the death penalty. Progressives tend to oppose the death penalty. In theory I've always been a supporter. Because of the fallibility-- and bias-- in the Justice system, though, I'm reticent to embrace the death penalty the way I would if it was wealthy banksters getting executed instead of poor working people. So why do I think the Indian rape case calls for the death penalty?

I've been watching TV interviews with Indians about the incident since the day after it happened. Outside of Delhi-- and presumably a few other big cities-- there's a horrifying consensus. Everyone agrees that rape is detestable and really horrible. That's good. But then you get the bad news-- how you define rape. Let's keep Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock and the House Republicans out of this. Indians will denounce rape and then immediately pivot to women who dress immodestly inciting men sexually. Even women going out without a guardian is an excuse in the mind's of India's males to "legitimate" rape. A woman is raped every 20 minutes in India. It's got to stop... and it's tearing the society apart right now, a healthy thing.
The Times of India says “Rape is a notoriously under-reported crime, thanks to its social stigma and because the culprits in most of the cases are known to the victim. Yet, of all the major crimes, the incidence of rape has registered the highest growth in the country in the last four decades.”
Women are immediately blamed in most cases. India has a two-finger rule to check to see if the victim is promiscuous-- presumably in which case, it's what American Republicans (as well as primitive Indians) would call "legitimate" rape.
Delhi is the rape capital of the world.

The latest rape statistics released by the Indian National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has once again put Delhi on top of the shame table with Mumbai is a close second on the list.

Rape cases in India more than doubled between 1990 and 2008, and national crime records show that 228,650 of the 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year had women as victims. The conviction rate for rape cases is 26 per cent.

According to experts only about ten percent of the rapes are reports. The TOI reports, that Delhi registered 568 cases of rape, compared to 218 in Mumbai in 2011 according to NCRB records. In the 2007-2011 period, Delhi topped the chart, followed by Mumbai, Bhopal, Pune and Jaipur.

While there is much chagrin in Bharat and the West over the latest rape in a moving bus–the Western media is silent. The Rape NGOs in America and Europe are silent, and the silence is deafening.

More than ten million Dalit women are raped. While they are untouchable but they are raped.

More than 2000 rape victims in Kashmir have come forward, but their cases are not heard, because the army is the culprit.

India stands third when it comes to rape cases, latest data of the Union Home Ministry suggest. Ahead of India are only the United States and South Africa.

According to the data, 18,359 rape cases were registered in India in the first three quarters of this year while in the US, 93,934 and in South Africa 54,926 rape cases were registered respectively.
There's a great need for a change of attitude in India. A decade of the death penalty in rape cases would get that ball moving.
One of the most shocking attacks happened in the state of Haryana where the victim waived her right to anonymity. There Sixteen-year-old Shabnam was gang raped by eight men from her village. Her attackers took videos on their mobile phones.

When Shabnam’s father discovered that the images were being shared around the village he committed suicide out of shame.

But the brave schoolgirl wants the world to know what happened because she says too many victims are either too afraid or too ashamed to speak out.

“I don’t want the sacrifice of my father to be wasted,” she said. “I’ve decided to get them all punished so that whatever happened with me should never happen to anybody else again.”

The rise in sexual assaults in Haryana reflects what is happening in other states across India.

The reasons:

• A preference for sons and the illegal practice of female infanticide and foeticide have left the state with a badly skewed sex ratio.
• In Haryana there are just 830 girls per 1,000 boys.
• Women’s rights campaigner Rishi Kant says the problems are deep rooted within Indian society.
• “Because of these problems we are facing with female infanticide and foetcide, due to (the fact there are) less girls, young boys are doing all these crimes which are very heinous crimes and they should be booked immediately with a fast track court so that a proper sentence can be given against them.”
• Campaigners say India’s laws for the protection of women are robust but are demanding better policing and stiffer jail terms.

Lok and Rajha Sabah have failed to bring about change. The protesters on the streets of Delhi is a heartening site. Hopefully their will bring about changes which find solutions to societal issues.

Rape has little to do with eroticism. Rape is a crime of violence-- it has little to do with sex. The young girl in question was abused with an iron rod!

In all the studies on this subject, societal norms play a big part in condoning violent behavior. Dalits are raped at random-- and this is acceptable for the society at large.

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At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Bil said...

Not a perfect world yet, so I'm ok with the death penalty until it is, particularly with that kind of violent killer.

Added bonus is that they won't be reproducing, natural selection wins again.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger KathleenShimp said...

The most depressing thing, to me at least, is when you read that article at Rupee News, the stats they give showing India as 3rd in rape, show the US still is number one. I grant it's probably just a lot more reported, but still, makes you cringe.


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