Even before the 24/7 media started getting all righteous, the legislature had enacted and amended tough laws on crimes against women, including rape. The Indian Penal Code today covers every possible physical crime on the feminine body. To make rape trials less traumatic, the SC has ruled, repeatedly, that the female victim’s testimony doesn’t need independent corroboration. She also cannot be named (it entails two years’ jail plus fine). The trial must be in-camera and heard, when possible, by women judges.
In the 1990s, six sections were included in the ‘rape’ category (Section 375). Today, a woman in custody, raped by a man in a dominant position, a gangrape that ends in her death, sexual activity “outside the order of nature” (Sec 377)—nothing is really beyond the law. Then there are the fast-track courts, crimes against women cells at police stations, and medical advances, including DNA tests, all of them meant to aid speedy justice.
Yet, the outrage in the ‘Jagruti’ case has fuelled TV anchors and many protesters to cry for the death penalty for rape. Their argument that Sec 376 and Sec 377 (unnatural sexual acts) aren’t tough enough (with a maximum penalty of a life term) lends weight to another government bill (Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2012), itself based on a Law Commission report and SC order (Sakshi vs Union of India).
The new Bill gives ‘rape’ an even wider definition and proposes to substitute, in the IPC, ‘rape’, a specific crime against women, with the generic words ‘sexual assault’. The latter will include using any object for penetration, not just penile-vaginal intercourse as given in Section 375.
Rapists don’t hang in India. This isn’t because the legislature is ‘soft’ or ‘weak’ but a reasoning that if murder and rape are similarly punished, the accused may take it that killing the woman would not make things any worse for him.
Yet, a gender-neutral Bill raises more questions than answers. Legal scholar and teacher Upendra Baxi says “the problem of penile penetration being the sole criteria for rape can be sorted out by a simple amendment to the IPC. Gender-neutral sexual assault, though, is an interesting debate—but it’s at odds with the fact that women are much more vulnerable to sexual abuse, and not vulnerable in the same way as men”.
The Criminal Law Amendment Bill has come into difficulties, with civil society and the legal fraternity divided into camps, supporting or opposing it. Opponents say the police will struggle with the “gender-neutral” concept for a long time. For all its talk of gender-neutrality and sexual crimes committed against women, neither the new bill, nor the Law Commission, nor the IPC strictly enforces a case of rape of a wife by her husband, even if the couple is estranged.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
If a boy has to be punished as an adult even if he was 12, merely because he is a boy, you could as well punish him for any other crime too!
Why the pussillanimousity when it comes to rape alone?
When will Male Right Activists fight for laws against the misuse of laws, especially when the laws are draconian and even mere accusations threaten to be fatal to the socio-economic status of the male?
The Americans started their brand of anti-male activism with the famous slogan : "They are boys; throw rocks at them".
Indian media seems to be following the misandrist foot-steps of foreign feminist media.
One more point is - a lot of sexual assault, committed by men is done by those guys who are not legally adults (below age of 18). And if they are tried in courts, they are treated differently.
Why dont we change this in that when it comes to rape, all accused should be tried same if above the age of 12? In the case of our Delhi rape victim it appears that one of the 5 guys who assaulted her was 17 in age. Still there is no reason to believe that he should be tried lightly and punished less severely.
We need a separate law dealing with beastality -things where assaulters insert sharp objects into the sexual organ of the victim (lady). Beastality is something beyond rape, it should be punished with highest sentence (castration or death) and can extend to even cases where the victim and accused are in a martial relation . And should be gender neutral - if a wife enacts a bobitting act, it should be punishable too.
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