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DON’T Hang The Rapists, For It serves No Good But Makes Killers Of Us All!

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By Shamim Zakaria:

The pronouncement of death penalty by the Saket district court in the infamous Delhi gang rape case of 16 December’2012 has certainly echoed a fresh debate on the relevance of capital punishment. However, it is evident enough that death penalty or hanging can never be justified in the form of justice or can’t bring justice to anybody.

Death Penalty

Any civilized society can never have any place for death penalty. Whatever may the crime be, but killing someone is a form of violence. For the innumerable forms of violent and heinous crimes taking place in the society, we say that violence in any form is unacceptable, then how can we justify death penalty and support the right to take life of others?

According to Amnesty International, there are thousands of people in this country who believe that the use of death penalty is arbitrary, flawed and biased. Death penalty is merely short term revenge. Speaking in the context of rape, there’s no doubt that it is one of the most heinous crimes prevalent in the society and stringent punishment must be ensured. We, however, presume that the survivors of rape and other violence might want capital punishment for the convict, but through studies and research it has been established that even those women who are the worst sufferers of violence and these abhorrent acts don’t always want the physical harm of the convicts. According to the victims, what has been done to them, they never want that to happen with others. What they sought is justice, not revenge. And death in any form can’t bring justice to anyone. Moreover, death and a few minutes of fear before it is not what can be termed as punishment.

We often feel that death penalty might work as a deterrent towards bringing down the crime rate or creating fear in the minds of the criminals. However, there’s no evidence or research to suggest that death penalty succeeded in bringing down the crime rate or creating fear. A shocking survey reveals that in western countries where death penalty is still prevalent, the crime rate is higher than the countries which have abolished capital punishment. Speaking about Saudi Arabia and some Islamic countries, punishment like public hanging, chopping of limbs or stoning to death might create a degree of fear or deterrence of crimes but again we need to question ourselves if we want to transition into a society of that sort, where there’s even doubt about the credibility of the judgment? There might be a chance of false fabrication of the accused in some cases, too.

Shifting focus to the Indian justice system, there are certain disturbing elements in the system too. According to the law, only the rarest of the rare cases deserve capital punishment but earlier, while examining the parameters of the rarest of the rare cases, the court said that while delivering judgment in a particular case, the opinion of the society must also be considered. Now, this in itself is very shocking. How can the society’s will towards a particular case be surveyed? Does this mean that the judicial system must go along with the street noises? If a person is against death penalty in a particular case, how can they register their discontentment?

This brings us to the burning question again that why death penalty can’t be considered as a form of justice. Killing can never transform a society; it cannot serve or justify a community or society in any form. There’s a lot more to do, to make the society grow. To uplift the society in terms of aesthetic and moral grounds, focus should be on creating a space for education, acuity, equal access to justice and legal opportunity and eradication of poverty instead of just killing the offenders.

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  1. LemonTeaLover

    I disagree, I think captial punishment is required. There is a reason why countries like Saudi are crime free, it is because even their petty punishments are such deterrants to crime.I don’t see any wrong in a society where the punishment to a crime deteres people from committing the crime to such an extent that it eradicates even the thought of committing a crime and forces individualsl to take the right path.While you are right when you say that maybe a societ should become crime- free by the merits of their knowledge and conscience to judge what is wrong and right, atleast as of today, education is not a solution to reduce crime. Many well-educated young people have raped, murdered, driven intoxicated, these cases come out every day.

    ‘If a person is against death penalty in a particular case, how can they register their discontentment?’ Have you heard in recent times, of an individual getting death penalty and not deserving a serious punishment?I have not!In fact, serious crimes would have gotten away with bail our a few years sentence had it not been for public uproar.I am sure I do not need to give examples. Our judicial system is not ruthless, even the accused is allowed to represent himself legally and put forward his justification. That is how the can register their discontent.

    Why should a person allowed to plan kill someone and take away that persons life and allowed to go scot- free and live his own life? What according to you is a punishment that such an offence deserves?

    Why, even our religions talk about a hell for the people who have committed heinous crimes.Of course, a lot of crimes are committed due to the situation of people, poverty is a huge reason.Where this might be the ultimate punishment for soul cleansing, for a society that does not want to encourage murders and rapes by saying, you will only lose a few years in containment for taking somebody else’s right to live with peace, sanity peace of mind and honour for the rest of their years.

    1. Gautam S Kumar

      I do no think the article stated that criminals should be allowed to roam free. Abolishing death penalties does not mean abolishing any kind of punishment what so ever for the criminal. The system should aim to make society a better place , yes and at times , not letting the criminal back into society is indeed the only way to do so, but killing the said person is never the solution. Compare the situation to when one of your gadgets is ‘broken’ in some way. The criminal has become what he/she is because of a variety of reasons. In other words, he is ‘broken’ And instead of fixing what is broken, no matter how many other gadgets the bad one messes up/destroys or at least even attempting to fix it, destroying it is not really reasonable.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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