Harsher laws and punishments for crimes against women
If there is anything that will deter a criminal from carrying out a crime, it is the fear of grave punishment if he is caught. The reason why so many people get away with committing heinous crimes in India is because the laws are very lax, the politicians and higher-ups are extremely corrupt and ill begotten money comes into play when a bribe needs to be paid or people need to be bought off a case. Or worse, money is used to silence protests. In the light of such laxity, it is natural that perpetrators of crime will dare to continue their nefarious activities without the slightest fear of being caught.
The recent rape and murder case in Delhi, and the incredible instances of similar crimes right after it, despite the national uproar that took the country by storm brought to light the fact that laws need to be made more stringent and the punishments should be such that criminals fear the retribution that will come their way.
Keeping this in mind and after the Delhi incident, the president of India Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to harsher punishments for rapists that have been recommended by the government. This ordinance is valid for six months after which it will lapse if the bill or bills for the proposed laws are not passed by the Parliament. The new laws call for death penalty in instances of rape that leaves the victim dead or in a permanent vegetative state. Minimum sentence for gang-rape, rape of a minor, rape by the police or person in authority will be extended to 20 years instead of the existing 10 which can be further extended to life sentence without parole. Existing laws give a rapist only 7 to 10 years. Punishments for crimes such as stalking women, voyeurism, attacks with acid and other crimes such as trafficking have also been enhanced and are all punishable by law.
It is high time something be done about the existing laws and punishments in this country – harsher the laws and lesser the crime rate hopefully. One takes note that punishments in the Arab countries are extremely harsh though it defeats the purpose, given the extreme restrictions and punishments the women there have to deal with. India follows suit with Pakistan in this respect however, seeing that in November 2009, The National Assembly of Pakistan passed a bill to provide for harsher punishments for sexual harassment, in a rare show of concern for the safety of women. This bill encourages a Rs 50,000 fine and up to 3- 10 years of imprisonment, giving shape to the existing laws which provided for a year’s imprisonment and an unspecified fine for a vague “insult” to a woman’s honour.
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We need more changes such as this – and we will wait with bated breath for all the laws to be passed. Till then, we can sigh in relief at the fact that some measures are being taken to rectify the present day scenario.