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Ensure certainty not severity of punishment: woman rights activists on hanging of convicts

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Some women's rights activists have asserted that hanging of the Nirbhaya convicts is not a solution to tackle sexual crimes and demanded certainty not just severity of punishment in such cases.

Women rights body All India Progressive Women's Association said since the Nirbhaya case, the anti-rape law has been changed to an extent but its implementation remains lax and most of the recommendations are yet to be realised in practice.

"The fact is that in the vast majority of rape cases, the perpetrators still enjoy absolute impunity because the victims are failed at every step - by the police, by the judiciary, and by an overwhelming climate of patriarchal victim blaming. The exceptional, highly publicised executions of rape convicts in a rare case, far from deterring rape, actually deters our society and our government from confronting and taking responsibility for rape culture," the AIPWA said in a statement.

"An execution falsely reassures us that rape is a 'rarest of the rare' act committed by strangers, beasts. In fact, rapists are usually not strangers, but men we know and admire - and rape is a product of our patriarchal society, not an isolated rare instance," according to the statement issued by Rati Rao, President, AIPWA, Meena Tiwari, General Secretary, AIPWA and Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, AIPWA

They further demanded that the government must provide 24/7 public transport so that the streets are flooded with women and no Nirbhaya is compelled to take a rogue bus, vastly more judges and courts so that all cases move faster, a policing and judicial system where the process of investigation and trial is not a punishment for the rape victim.

Insisting that there is little point in seeking value in the deaths of rapists, the statement said society should instead make sure it values women's lives and freedoms more. "Rather than celebrate the state's power to hang rapists, let us continue to work for a society which would not produce rapists," it said.

Woman rights body Saheli, in a statement, accused the State of "creating a false narrative" that death penalty is a form of "justice".

Terming death penalty as a "distraction from the terrible truth that the State is unwilling and uninterested in dealing with the causes of sexual violence", it said the establishment was oftenguilty of protecting those in power accused of such crimes.

"We want certainty, not severity of punishment. For that is the only long-term legal way to put a stop to sexual violence. And the rest of the work, we as citizens and a society have to do to put an end to cultures that allow and valourise rape," the statement said.

Annie Raja, activist and CPI leader, said systemic provisions must be introduced to ensure that such a crime does not take place in the first place.

"For me, Nirbhaya will get justice when a system is in place that prevents such crimes. Secondly, what about the criminal negligence by the government over implementation of the legislations which are there to prevent the crime," Raja said.

"You need to sensitise the police. Even among Delhi Police personnel, you should ask how much is the awareness about the anti-rape law. That is why we are demanding complete overhauling and judicial reforms," she said.

The 2012 gangrape and murder case of 'Nirbhaya' got a closure with the hanging of four convicts on Friday.

The four convicts in the case -- Mukesh Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Singh (31) -- were hanged on Friday at 5:30 am.

The 23-year-old paramedical student, who later came to be known as 'Nirbhaya' or fearless, was raped in a moving bus on the intervening night of December 16-17 in 2012 in Delhi by six people. She died in a Singapore hospital days later. Of the six accused, Ram Singh allegedly committed suicide at the Tihar Jail. One of them, a juvenile, was dealt with by the juvenile justice board.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 20 2020. 22:36 IST