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Will severity of punishments save innocents?

Will severity of punishments save innocents?

In the wake of increasing episodes of sexual abuses against minors, the Supreme Court on Monday has asked the Parliament to enact a separate law providing harsh punishment for criminals.

The bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said that rape of children below ten years of age including infants was ‘nothing but brutal perversion’ and that the Parliament had to separately define the word ‘child’ in terms of rape. The court was considering a plea filed by a female lawyers association of the apex court demanding castration as a punishment for raping children. This is the first time the Supreme Court has distinguished infants and children below the age of 10 from the general description of 'minors' given by law to anyone below the age of 18. Justice Misra through the statement has made attempts to draw the attention of the Parliament into the ‘pain and distress’ experienced by a ‘child who knows nothing about sex and rape’. It was only recently that the Parliament amended a law whereby the juveniles aged 16-18 years accused of heinous crimes would be tried as adults. If the law comes into effect, those like the juvenile criminal involved in the infamous Delhi Nirbhaya case wouldn’t be permitted a release from jail even after three years of detention. The harsher punishments for adults would be applicable to the juveniles as well. But a law hasn’t been formed by considering the young age of victims.

Given the present scenario, whether the laws or the amendments that increase the severity and extent of punishments are effective in uprooting or curbing the escalating sexual violence in the country deserves contemplation. Even after bringing in harsher laws after the uproar over the Nirbhaya case, similar incidents have only increased in number. The inefficiency of the police force, carelessness and the unbearable delay in resolving the cases before the court are the apparent reasons. Beyond all these factors, is the harsh reality that the country is turning into scene of immorality and sexual anarchy. The dominance of visual media that tempts and encourages unruly life besides reinforcing the tendency to enslave the children with addiction to alcohol and drugs should also be curbed. According to the global estimates released by Pornhub, India comes third after the US and Britain in the number of viewers of porn sites. The sites have recorded a total of 2100 crore visits. Given that the world population is 740 crores, thrice the number of visitors to the porn sites means repeated visits by the viewers, obviously including children, teenagers and youth.

Therefore the generations turning into sex maniacs failing animal instincts and unleashing violence on women including minors is not unanticipated. As per the estimates released regularly by the National Crime Records Bureau about sexual harassments, most of the incidents happen at homes and in families with many of the cases going unreported despite having stringent laws. Besides making tough laws to curb such crimes, the country’s educational system should be restructured so as to inculcate in children more humane values and also adopt severe and effective steps to cleanse the cultural scene. Liberals and those who endorse freedom of expression without constraints should be sensible and realistic. The media should also be curbed by reining down programs that encourage such crimes. The cinema, television and internet owners should be convinced that they can’t spin money by stifling humane values. If such measures seem impractical, the childhoods would continue to be wiped away off their innocence even if the criminals are sentenced to death.

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