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IS DEATH PENALTY AN EFFECTIVE DETERRENT?

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IS DEATH PENALTY AN EFFECTIVE DETERRENT?

December 06
14:19 2019

With a nation wide clamor growing for vengeance against the perpetrators of the rape and murder of the Hyderabad veterinarian which had generated calls for the accused to be summarily executed, tortured and maimed, the Parliament had an extensive discussion with members of both Houses calling for the death penalty, public lynching and castration of men convicted of such heinous crimes.

Union Minister Rajnath Singh said the central government was open to every suggestion to curb such heinous crimes and if the House agreed stringent Laws can be framed, if needed.

No doubt, the Parliament was echoing the concerns of the entire country and in the process it just wants to act out the popular sentiment without actually attacking the cause of the problem.

In its effort to echo the concerns of the society and in its outrage both the Parliament and the society at large seemed to have no time to ponder over whether the death penalty be an effective deterrent in preventing rapes in future. In our clamor for death penalty we are all just seeking a “retributive action” without whether punishments extensively whether such punishment could be a “Deterrent action”.

In their outrage both the Parliament and the society are confused when they, in one voice, say “Death to the rapist” on what they mean by it. Do both the Parliament and the society mean death penalty is either a retributive action where the affected party is seeking retribution for a heinous crime or a deterrent action, which would act as a preventive factor against such crimes from occurring in future. This is a question that has been debated around the world – Will stringent Laws/Death Penalties actually reduce rape crimes?

Ever since the promulgation of the Nirbhaya Act, there seemed no decrease in the rape cases nor crimes against women manifesting that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that stringent Laws deter rape crimes.Instead of death penalties, which are low hanging fruits to go after the perpetrators, what we need is fundamental changes to the Judicial and Law enforcing systems.

Enough studies and our own experience of promulgating Nirbhaya and POSCO Acts showed that stringent Laws and death penalties are no deterrents unless there are structural changes at the systemic levels.

As it is not the severity of the punishment but the surety of the punishment that will help deter the rape crimes. A stricter law serves no purpose, if there is no structure in place to make sure that they are implemented on time.

Rapists know that rape is wrong, but that does not mean rapes are not committed.

Criminals commit crimes because they think they can escape and that is what needs to change.

The slow pace of the justice system and long-drawn-out trials in our country often mean that victims have to wait years before they can get justice.

And in cases where the death penalty has been handed out, those convicted have many chances to appeal against their sentence.And finally, do our politicos have the will to legislate more stringent Laws to deter the rape crimes, as in such crimes, sometimes, the chances are there for involvement of high-profile people related to them or chances of involvement of one of their senior party colleague are very high in future.

Robust laws would in fact have a very limited impact in reducing the crime unless they are accompanied with a change in the attitudes of the police, judiciary, government officers and society.

Stringent Laws like death penalty will not make streets and homes safer for women, children or men.

The rape victims in our country deserve something better: a thing called justice.

In other words, no death penalty would solve our country’s rape crisis and a deep study of the system that breeds such perpetrators is the need of the hour.

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