In the wake of increasing sexual violence towards the minors in the country, the Madras High Court on Sunday has directed the Centre to consider castration as a form of punishment for child abusers and rapists.
Justice N Kirubakaran in the strongly worded judgement said that the present law was ‘ineffective’ and incapable of addressing such heinous crimes and dealing with such criminals and that the ‘judiciary couldn’t be a mute spectator’ when the recent incidents of brutal gang rape of children across India were reported. He said that even though the suggestion of castration might look barbaric, barbaric criminals needed barbaric punishment adding that ‘the very thought of punishment should deter the criminal from committing the offence’. Justice Kirubakaran also pointed out that castration on child offenders using chemicals was permitted in countries like the US. The Court observed that while the conviction rate of sex offence cases against children was 2.4 per cent during 2008-2014, it has now increased by 400 per cent. At a time when even toddlers fall prey to the brutal assaults of sex maniacs, the law makers contemplating such severe punishments like castration is expected. The Nirbhaya rape and murder case that rocked the nation had pressurized the government to moot harsh laws to curb sexual violence against women and stringent punishments for the convicts. Not only that the laws have proved ineffective but similar horrific incidents are repeated in the capital and all across the country. While only the incidents reported are noticed by the government as well as the public, many similar episodes occurring mostly in the remote interiors and ghettos remain unnoticed. But whether castration would prove effective in preventing sexual crimes against women and children is yet to be seen.
The Court observed that the youngsters were exposed to incorrect and half-baked knowledge from sources like the internet, movies and friends ‘creating misconception and doubts’. This would lead to the youth going off the right track. The introduction of compulsory sex education for high school students as suggested by the Court would to an extent direct the youngsters to the right path. But when the ethical and moral atmosphere of the society gets tarnished along with the public support from the cultural world for immoral activities in the name of progressiveness, imparting sex education alone wouldn’t be able to curb the sexual mayhem. Movies, literature and media are all filled with sexual content nowadays. Reports and estimates also show that incidents of sexual violence against minors increases in societies where no legal reins are enforced on such crimes. In certain civilized countries, such offences call for 30-40 years of imprisonment. Given the present circumstances, castration in India would only increase the number of sterilised persons with the expectations of intended results going in vain. The present law and order system of the country is completely inept in registering the cases on time, bringing the culprits before the court, presenting the actual witnesses, establishing the scientific evidences and penalizing the convicts. Making the punishments more severe would only be rendered futile. In such circumstances, resistance against the Court suggestions from all sides is expected. PUCL has opined that even castration wasn’t sufficient for crimes like child rape citing that such punishments had failed to cut down the crime rates in countries where castration was permitted. The government should take effective steps to ensure safety of women and children at any cost. Those who raise slogans about progressiveness and equality of man and woman and against the human rights violation imposed through the punishment of castration should focus on emotional trauma, suffering and agony of the victims and extend support to them.