Even before we forgot the horrifying gang rape of December 2002 in Delhi, we have heard the shocking news of the rape of a five-year-old. Such depressing incidents make me wonder whether we are really living in a civilised society. Rapists are monsters in human forms.

Capital punishment for rapists alone will send out a strong message. The government should not waste time and money on those convicted of rape by giving them food, shelter and safety for years together in jails. One hopes the little girl will have a miraculous recovery.

Shilpa Surath,

Chennai

It is clear that the recent amendments to the criminal law on rape have not had the desired impact. A law is effective only if people know of its existence, content and the societal value that drives it — that is, most people know and understand why it is good for society.

The weaknesses in the government and society’s approach to the rape laws are glaring. It is important to conduct an imaginative and sustained publicity campaign in the media, especially in regional languages, in cinema theatres and so on.

The second weakness lies in the failure of political leaders to champion the cause of women in their constituencies. All leaders, big and small, should highlight the new law in their speeches; articulate why it is vital for our society to ensure a safe and enabling environment for girls and women; and declare their personal commitment to the cause.

B.M. Srinivasa Rao,

Bangalore

We are living in very unsafe times. Girls are not respected; on the contrary, they are blamed for being raped. They are ‘rape-able.’ We are in constant fear of being attacked, raped, victimised by men throwing acid on our faces, and what not. At 22, I have moved out of my house to build a career. But suddenly I want to rush back to the safety of my cocoon. I want to wear a skirt, I want to look good, I want to smile when I meet my male friends. Where is the freedom?

Anandi Mishra,

New Delhi

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