The number of rape incidents in Haryana — 19 in a month — would shock the conscience of any sane and civilised society. However, it is depressing to see the State government, political parties and khap panchayats rationalising the heinous crime.
While the ruling Congress sees a conspiracy to tarnish the image of its government, one of its senior leaders says 90 per cent of the rapes in the State are consensual. The khap panchayat bats for reducing the marriageable age of girls to 16 to save them from rape, and a former Chief Minister echoes the idea in a throwback to the medieval times.
The need of the hour is to apprehend the culprits and give them exemplary punishment. Women must feel safe in the State.
Rape has a lot to do with the upbringing of the male child. It is normally observed that even the mother of one who perpetrates rape stands by her son. Only stringent punishment can deter rapists.
Many rapists are married men. How will the lowering of the marriageable age help reduce incidents of rape? The law should make rape punishable by death.
Lowering the marriageable age of boys and girls in the name of controlling rape cases would be akin to feeding and nourishing stray dogs. If the khap panchayat wants to prevent youngsters from “straying”, a better way to do it would be to legalise prostitution.
A girl is denied of everything she can empower herself with when she is married early. Her opportunities are narrowed down with regard to education, employment opportunities and, hence, social awareness. This will only increase crimes against her. The government will jump from the frying pan to the fire if it takes the ideas of the khaps seriously. It should look at delivering instant justice to rape victims rather than make the victim and her family spend almost their whole lives fighting for justice.
Mrinalini Vamsi Krishna,
Marriage is a commitment that comes with a lot of responsibility. It calls for both emotional and physical maturity. If we legalise child marriage, the next issue we will face will be an unprecedented increase in the divorce rate.