Wounding human dignity
Rape is a soul-degrading crime and must be dealt with all seriousness and severity
B L SARAF
The misplaced masculine bravado that, shamelessly, marks the unending spate of rape incidents in Haryana, has brought to the fore a need to study the etymology of the word ‘rape'. More so, because of the highly inappropriate responses of the state leaders – cutting across the party lines – to the commission of this ghastly crime. The record, though, at the national level is equally dismal. Country wide, a woman is raped every 20 minutes.
The origin of the word rape is in the Latin verb ‘rapere ‘ which means to seize or take by force. Sociologists say rape is a violent act borne out of an aggressive urge to dominate the victim . It is demonstration of power than a means of gratification. The knowledgeable say, power and humiliation are integral to the act rather than sexual fulfillment. No wonder, in his book Men who rape – Psychology of the Offender Nicholas Groth describes rape as, “Sexuality in the service of non - sexual needs.” In areas of conflict the definition comes out very true . Here, both state and non – state actors resort to the offense more to conquer the psychological and aspirational areas than to satisfy the bestial instincts . Sometimes it is used to wreak vengeance. Towards the end of 20th Century world saw a significant increase in the use of rape as a weapon of war. In 1990 a tribunal investigating crime stemming from genocide in Rwanda held that rape and sexual violence constituted a form of genocide. What a travesty; along with the purpose of rape, social profile of the rapist has also changed.
Rape is something more . In State of Punjab v/s Gurmit Singh (1996 ) 2 S C C 384 , the Supreme Court pointed out , “Rape is not merely a physical assault – it is often destructive of the whole personality of the victim. A murderer destroys the physical body of his victim, a rapist degrades the very soul of the helpless female ….” And then went on to say, “ We must remember that a rapist not only violates the victim’s personal liberty, but inevitably causes serious psychological and physical harm in the process.” Whenever a rape is committed, this observation is sufficient to invoke Article 5 of Universal Declaration Of Human Rights which says , “ No one shall be subjected to torture, cruel inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment.” Women rights are, indeed, human rights. Rape is undoubtedly an act of utmost depravity, often used as a weapon of terror against women. Therefore, according to Amartya Sen, elimination of this kind of fear of terrorism reasonably falls within the concerns of human rights.
There is a clamour for having more stringent laws to deal with the sexual offenders. May be so. But experience tells us that in most cases laws alone don’t work effectively. The wicked would always find ways and means to get away with the crime . Plato noted long ago, “ Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while the bad people will find a way around the laws.” But then requirement of appropriate law, with commensurate deterrence, can’t be ignored.Though one would tend to agree with Amartya Sen in this regard . “ The protection of human rights would have to be sought elsewhere, for example through the influence of education and public discussion on civility and social conduct .”
Nicholas Groth suggests a way out to arrest the scourge of the sexual offence. He says punishment for the rapist should be fearsome. But the rape should be de -stigmatised as that is the only way to rob the rapists of their sense of control and power. Would it work? Given the continued enlargement of areas of the conflict, - worldwide, as of now, there can be no satisfactory answer to it.
There is an urgent need to shed societal apathy and insensitivity towards the rape victims and show zero tolerance to the crime. At the same time, along with the culprits, the callous leaders who condone the dastardly crime as a consensual act should also be’ named and shamed '.
(B L Saraf is Former Pr District & Sessions Judge)
Lastupdate on : Tue, 23 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 23 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Oct 2012 00:00:00 IST
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