Human Rights

No public outcry for Asifa's rape and brutal murder

In our country, rape is a heinous crime and an issue of great concern, especially since the Nirbhaya incident in 2012. Inspite of enacting new laws with stringent punishment things have not changed much.

Two months back, an eight-year-old tribal/nomad (Bakerwal) girl Asifa Bano was brutally raped and murdered in Kathua district of Jammu & Kashmir. The gruesome murder of a little girl was horrendous. Her body was recovered from a nearby forest where she was thrown after her murder.

Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code prescribes punishment for rape as follows: Whoever commits an offence punishable under sub-section (1) or (2) of section 376 and in the course of such commission inflicts an injury which causes the death of the woman or causes the woman to be in a persistent vegetative state, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than twenty years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, or with death (Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013).

The evidences in the present case have been destroyed by some officials which, too, is punishable as Section 204 of IPC says: Whoever secretes or destroys any [document or electronic record] which he may be lawfully compelled to produce as evidence in a Court of Justice, with the intention of preventing the same from being produced or used as evidence before such Court or public servant, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or fine or with both.

The Indian State is going through a critical phase struggling to manage so many conflicts but this gruesome murder of an eight-year old innocent soul is absolutely disgusting. What is even more distressing is our so-called media and activists who have become dummies.

After this shameful incident, communal protests were organised in support of the rapist who had confessed to his crime. This is so shameful that such a protest was arranged and allowed to take place in the presence of police. Strict action must have been taken against such people who insulted the national flag by waving it during their protest. Surprisingly those who support such crimes in our country go unpunished. This is a big slap on the face of humanity that “Hindu Ekta Manch” shows sympathy for a murderer and rapist.

This tragic episode has left me with no faith in the hollow slogans made by our politicians like “Beti Bachao Beti padhao”, where people forget their basic moral values and come out blatantly in support of a rapist-monster who raped and killed an innocent. Where is humanity now? Those who have shown their support for the murderer-rapist of a little girl either have no values or have no daughters, sisters and mothers.

We are slowly becoming a society where rape will be just another small crime. Till the time our judiciary sits up and treats such heinous crime with the seriousness these deserve, we will see more of these cases. Only the names of the victims will keep on changing: Nilofer, Asiya, Nirbhaya, Zainab, Asifa… and many more like them.

On the other side of our borders is Pakistan we love to dub as a “failed democracy”. It awarded death sentence to the rapist of eight-year old Zainab within 15 days of the arrest of the criminal. Justice was served there and here, in our progressive democracy, people are supporting the rapist! This is the so-called "NAYA BHARAT" where crime is not a crime if committed against certain people and communities.

Now coming to the punishments meted out to such criminals in other countries, our country is too soft on them.  In fact before 2013 rape was not considered even a major crime. The highest degree of punishment that could be given to a convict was imprisonment for seven years. The change was was possible only after the Nirbhaya incident that Parliament came up with an stringent anti-rape law.  Now a rape is liable to life long imprisonment and even death penalty in some extreme cases. As per the new law, not only rape but other acts like sexual harassment, molestation, acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism are also liable to stringent punishments. The new law has the provision of awarding a minimum of 20 years of rigorous imprisonment, which can be extended to life imprisonment in case of those found guilty of gang-rape.

Now, let's have a look at the punishments for rape convicts across the globe:

  • In Saudi Arabia the punishment for rape or for cases of severe nature is public beheading in a single stroke by the police.
  • In China, strict punishment is given to rapists and perpetrators of heinous crimes. It is worth noting that the court proceedings in China are very swift.
  • In North Korea, there is no leniency when it comes to punishing a rapist. The offender is either shot in his head or vital organs by a firing squad and it provides instant justice to the victim.
  • In France, the rape laws and punishments are well-defined and extensive. An individual, if found guilty of aggravating a rape incident, is liable to 10 years of imprisonment. If the rape victim dies, the term is increased to 30 years imprisonment.
  • In USA, the punishments depend on the type of sexual assault which include rape. Punishment is categorised as 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree rape punishments. The maximum sentence for rape is life imprisonment, which could be 30 years in jail.
  • In UAE, the punishment is death. The rapist is hanged till death and this punishment is meted out within seven days of the crime.

But here in India, which also has anti-rape laws, the justice process takes years and years and the criminal often is let off on technical grounds.

The need of the hour is capital punishment in each and every case of rape irrespective of the criminal’s religion. A criminal, in fact, has no religion. He is psychotic and needs to be cured by giving him the death penalty to save society from further dozes of his heinous crime.

The author is law student at Jammu University