In a revolutionary move against sexual predators, the Madhya Pradesh Cabinet decided on a severe punishment to protect minors.
The Cabinet decided on Sunday that anyone convicted of raping a child below 12 years of age will be awarded the death penalty. This bold decision may prove to be a step forward towards addressing the ever-rising sexual crimes in the state.
The Madhya Pradesh Cabinet also passed a resolution that awards the death sentence to those involved in gang-rape.
But is the death sentence enough? Or do we need something more to strengthen our fight against sexual harassment?
In a state where a majority of victims are between 16 to 30 years of age, is categorising rape into ‘adult’ and ‘minor’ the best solution available?
According to a report by the Times of India, Madhya Pradesh topped the list of states with reported rapes in 2015. A total of 4,391 rape cases were filed in MP in 2015! From among the total cases, the majority of women victims were in the age group of 18—30 years of age.
According to Hindustan Times, these statistics indicate that on an average, 11 women become victims of rape every day.
As reported by Firstpost, in 95% of rape cases, the victim knows the accused. Indeed, the relationship of the accused with the victim might interfere with the death sentence.
Many times, such crimes are left unreported not only because of the stigma around the subject but also because of social status, relationships, family dynamics etc. Would a death penalty lower the reports further, if emotions and a family’s pressure are at stake?
On the other hand, a report by Hindustan Times stated that 248 rape cases reported between February 2016 and 2017 were gang-raped. Convicting those culprits to a death sentence might have some effect – though it is hard to say how much of an effect.
While it is a bold step taken by the MP Cabinet, what other measures can be taken to avoid sexual assault in our country?
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One of the most crucial steps that can be taken is to spread awareness. The subject of sex is surrounded by a stigma in many parts of the society and is even more hushed-up when is the case of rape. Victims are asked not to share their plight to uphold “their dignity”.
However, spreading awareness about the fact that the culprit can be brought to light only when such things are shared with trustworthy people can have a positive effect.
Kindness and mature understanding are also a must while dealing with such cases. Shaming victims further by asking what they were wearing, if they were drinking, where they were touched etc. in an animated manner adds to their agony.
Faster disposal of cases is also an important factor at this stage where more than 4000 rape cases are registered in just one state.
We hope that this decision is the first step that catalyses a walk of a thousand miles in a small span of time.