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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

From chemical castration to lynching, Parliament debates steps to curb rapes

As Rajya Sabha met for the day and the zero hour was about to commence, a demand was raised that a discussion on safety of women in the country be taken up.

india Updated: Dec 02, 2019 21:24 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Opposition members protest in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi
Opposition members protest in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi(PTI)

Perpetrators of heinous crimes against women should be castrated, surgically or chemically, or they should be executed publically like in some other countries or hanged within weeks of the incidents - these were some of the opinions voiced in the Parliament’s House of elders on Monday as MPs across party lines indicated patience was running short in the aftermath of the gory Hyderabad rape and murder case.

As Rajya Sabha met for the day and the zero hour was about to commence, a demand was raised that a discussion on safety of women in the country be taken up. AAP member Sanjay Singh and some other members had given a notice for a discussion on the issue.

Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said it was an important issue and sought the opinion of the leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad who promptly agreed.

Naidu set the tone of the discussion himself pointing out that the disgraceful and disturbing incident in Hyderabad was the latest such happening as the malaise was not confined to the city alone. He sought positive suggestions to improve the situation but the anger underlying the speeches was palpable.

Azad initiated the discussion and said that the malaise could not be tackled through legislation alone and an atmosphere had to be generated in the country’s institutions including those imparting education. A wide-ranging movement which goes above partly or religious lines is the need, the Congress leader asserted.

Speaking immediately after Santanu Sen of the TMC said fast track courts were needed and exemplary punishment given to the culprits. This punishments should be widely publicized for deterrence, he said.

Another member K Ravindra Kumar pointed out that often there was delay by the police in registering cases of crimes against women citing jurisdiction issues. This was happening despite Supreme Court directions, he rued. The Andhra Pradesh MP said the brutal rape and murder in Hyderabad was reminiscent of the episode in Delhi in 2012 which had shaken the nation.

Some of the strongest words came from DMK’s P Wilson. The courts should be empowered to order surgical or chemical castration for offences like rape and murder before such people are released from prisons into the community, the Tamil Nadu MP said.

Such legislations have been adopted in countries like Korea and states of the USA like California, the MP said. Surgical and chemical castration will reduce sexual performance, sexual interest and sexual reoffending, he added. Even the cost of such procedure should be recovered from the culprits including by attaching his assets, he added.

Wilson said a list of such offenders should be made public.

“It is time we act to save India’s daughters,” he asserted.

Similar were the feeling of SP member and actor Jaya Bachhan who said there were countless instances of similar crimes happening across the country.

“My suggestion is a bit harsh, but I think these people should be brought out in public and lynched,” the MP, who has often spoken on the issue in the past as well, averred.

Congress member T Subirami Reddy said those committing such crimes were not afraid of the law. Action should be taken within 15-20 days and no appeal allowed, he suggested.

Another Congress leader Amee Yajnik emphasized on the need to effect changes in the society’s mindset to make the environment safer for women.

Congress leader Mohammed Ali Khan said often cases linger on for years and justice takes long time. There are attempts to link such crimes with a religion which also has to be avoided, he added.

BJP leader R K Sinha said even in the Delhi gangrape and murder case the accused had not been awarded the final punishement given the system of appeals. A Nirbhaya fund was created and many states are not able to utilise it, he added.

BSP leader Veer Singh said often such crimes when perpetrated against women belonging to the weaker sections are not even highlighted. SAD leader Naresh Gujaral pointed out that while effective justice system was needed, the judiciary was functioning with upto 40 % vacancies.

Binoy Viswam joined the long list of enraged parliamentarians demanding capital punishment in case of such crimes even though he was opposed to this form of punishment. Women be it a girl of four years or a grandmother of 80, are not safe, he lamented.

Other MPs talked of need to check related crimes like illicit drug trade and pornography. Others wondered where cultural and moral value were as crimes continue to take place in various parts including Coimbatore, Kollachi to Kathua and Delhi.

BJP Member Ashwani Vaishnaw said the laws were archaic and probability of conviction low. Senior BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav said there was need to act collectively and bring change in a time-bound manner.

Some of the most telling comments were made by Chairman Naidu as he concluded the discussion.

“Merely making laws is not enough, we are seeing what is happening after conviction. There is a system of a series of appeals…Can anybody think of having mercy on such people? And why,” Naidu questioned.

Fast track courts are one thing, but what happens when the verdict has been given, he said.

The vice president also questioned leniency shown to juvenile offenders in case of gory sexual crimes.

“Those who can commit heinous crimes, what do they have to do with age?,” Naidu questioned.

In his characteristic style, Naidu said there was need for political will, administrative skill before the nation goes for the kill of this social evil.

We have Aadhaar cards and identity cards, such fellows should be identified and a social stigma attached to these crimes, he said giving vent to the larger painful concern.