The Kathua incident has left us speechless, not just out of shame but also sort of confusion. How can our fellow human beings stoop so low and carry out such brutal atrocity on a child? The concern is not just for the little girl, who was barbarically abused and then put to death. It is also not for every girl and woman, irrespective of her caste, faith and individual identity, who fall prey to the lust of some mentally sick, so-called men. Rather, the concern is for the society as a whole. Where are we heading to with such severe malady that has already affected our very humane conscience?
Unfortunately, we’re a part of a terminally ill society. Now, to rub the salt in the wound the union government has approved death sentence for those, who’re convicted with child rape. The effect of this ordinance will introduce changes to our legal lexicon. But what those changes will be?
- The minimum punishment for raping a woman has been increased from 7 to 10 years of rigorous punishment, which can be further extended to life imprisonment.
- For raping a girl, who’s under 16, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 to 20 years of imprisonment, which can further be extended to life imprisonment or imprisonment till the culprit meets his natural death.
- A convict will be given death penalty on raping children upto 12 years of age.
The union government, it seems, is trying to make a quantitative measurement of the fun that a rapist enjoys while committing the heinous crime on females of different age groups. A rape is a rape, irrespective of the age of the victim and the culprit(s) deserves exemplary punishment for it to ensure others don’t dare tread on that path to seek adventure.
There’s another point of concern, which needs to be raised as well. The ordinance makes it possible for courts to pronounce death sentence on those, accused of raping children upto 12 years. Doesn’t it sound like an attempt to make the entire thing over-simplified, as a just open-and-shut case? After all, it involves an act as beastly as rape in one hand and the matter of life and death of a human being on the other. Will the government step forward to compensate the loss, in case the law is intentionally abused as it has happened on other occasions? Drawing such an implication isn’t too hard.
After all, how the Section 498A of the IPC has not only been misused but rather, kept on being abused is known to all concerned. The provision was aimed at protecting our womenfolk from being exploited and tortured by their in-laws.
But unfortunately, a section of the womenfolk along their parents and other immediate kins abused this legal provision to intentionally harrass and torment their innocent husbands and in-laws. This went on for years together till the Supreme Court intervened and squashed its severity.
If as a society or as a nation, we could afford to degrade so low in intentionally misusing the Section 498A of the IPC, then what can prevent us from going several steps lower and forcefully compel our girls and women to submit to our sheer carnal lust?