There should be no hesitation about ending the lives of the four men in India who gang raped a young woman, causing her death. But, the big picture of Indian male attitudes toward women suggests that sending the rapists to the gallows will not end the epidemic of violence.
The excuse given for such attitudes is that in a patriarchal society, men are considered superior to women and, therefore, women have second-class status.
In this day and age, in a country with an exploding middle class and an economy that is the envy of other developing nations, why would the mores of the Stone Age hold sway? The answer lies in the central and state governments that have been complicit in the widespread abuse of women. Elected officials have turned a blind eye to the hundreds of rapes that occur each year, causing women to suffer the assaults in silence because filing complaints with the authorities is a losing proposition.
There can be no doubt that had the 23-year-old student not died from the internal injuries sustained when she was violated with a metal rod, the four rapists would have not have received a death sentence. It is also true that the woman would have been blamed for her rape. Such is the prevalent attitude in a country that is the largest democracy in the world. Unfortunately, the form of government has not extended to the attitudes of the people.
When society treats women as chattel, crimes against them aren’t given the importance by the criminal justice system as other crimes.
The death sentences handed down by an Indian court for the December rape and murder of the student on a bus are an encouraging sign. But, the number of rapes will not decrease until there are federal laws that make rape a capital crime.
“In these times, when crime against women is on the rise, the courts cannot turn a blind eye toward such gruesome crimes,” said Judge Yogesh Khanna, as he announced the death sentence against the four men. The judge said the attack “shocked the collective conscience” of India.
Given Judge Khanna’s obvious repulsion at what had occurred in the bus last December, it would behoove the government in New Delhi to lead an inquiry into the criminal justice system’s role in making rape a minor crime in India.
India women who have been abused physically will testify to the fact that when they file complaints, they are put through the ringer by law enforcement.
The accused rapist or abuser receives the benefit of the doubt.
India, which is striving to be taken seriously as a world economic power, must understand that every story of rape, every report of a foreign woman being groped or otherwise being manhandled, or every report of a child being abused adds to the perception that it is a country stuck in the Dark Ages.
It is unfathomable that a country that elected a female prime minister and has a female as head of a major political party would have such a poor record when it comes to protecting its female population.
The death of the four rapists will provide temporary solace to the family of the victim and the forward-thinking Indians who believe that men and women are equal.
The rape of a 5-year-old girl in New Delhi by two men begs the question: Is India so devoid of morals that even a child is seen as nothing more than a vessel for depravity?