National

‘Death penalty will deter reporting’

Ordinance on rape a knee-jerk reaction: activists

Death penalty for rape of girls upto 12 years will deter the victim and their families from reporting such crimes instead of acting as a deterrent for criminals, said activists who slammed the government for its “knee-jerk reaction” in bringing an ordinance on the issue.

“In cases of child sexual assaults we know that most of these crimes are committed by people known to them [the victims] or those within the family. Can you imagine anyone coming forward to complain about such crimes knowing that death penalty is the punishment that maybe imposed. Is the government not going to push the crime further underground and disable the victim from coming forward,” asked activist and lawyer Vrinda Grover.

As per the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data for 2016, 94.6% of total crimes against children under the POCSO Act as well as Section 376 are committed by either relatives or acquaintances.

Ms. Grover said that announcing a harsher penalty such as death may prove to be futile when the conviction rate under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act is as low as 18%.

“Instead of investing their resources and attention to fixing the gaps in the legal system and creating a more enabling, accessible and sensitive legal system, they are just going to do a gimmick and silence and blunt the national outcry and international criticism. This is a grave crisis and the government has abdicated its responsibility in ensuring the safety and security of women and children,” she said.

Consultation denied

Bharti Ali, co-founder of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, questioned the government’s decision to take the ordinance route. “What is the great hurry? Why can’t we have a more consultative process. Why are we not allowing democracy to function the way it should? There are constitutional processes built in to frame laws and policies,” Ms. Ali said.

She also questioned why sexual assaults against boys have been left unaddressed by the ordinance and why sentencing is being determined on the basis of age. “Are they saying some rape is okay and some rape is not okay?” Ms. Ali said.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 8:08:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/death-penalty-will-deter-reporting/article23631087.ece

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