To stop such an enormous, extreme and all-pervasive epidemic, we must address it in both proactive and reactive ways.
Treat rape and violence on women in India as a horrific epidemic: just like cholera, plague or small pox. Address the long-term, all-pervasive sociopolitical and economic evil relegating women to zero respect and zero honor and zero equality as apartheid: just the same way they had it in South Africa or America.
As we all know, proactive means measures taken before the fact — to prevent and to protect; reactive on the other hand means steps taken after the crime — to arrest and punish the criminals and provide medical treatment, health and psychological counseling for the victim and family, and at the same time create an economic safety net for the people who suffered.
We need to understand how to react when an act of terror happens on a woman. Indian middle class has shown that they are angry at how the criminals and their underworld connections have taken away any sense of safety and security from the women, they are furious how the people in power — including politicians and police — have miserably failed to protect the society and bring justice to the victims and their families and at the same time, protected some of the well-connected, powerful perpetrators, and they are tired of the crocodile tears the rich and the powerful and the celebrities are shedding now, when in reality for decades, the same people have supported, promoted and glamorized the status quo where violence on women, police brutality on men, and pathetic corruption and black money and mafia connection have all become a part of the Indian society.
The Intel Education picture below charts the reasons behind a health epidemic and their interconnections. Let’s see if they make any sense to compare with the epidemic or rape and violence on women.
We are going to talk about just a few reasons and leave the rest up to you to draw your conclusions on. Further, there might more reasons that one can think of and include in this diagram to make it more meaningful and conclusive. In this limited space of my blog, I’m only trying to highlight some of the most important areas. Now, the criminals — especially in the Indian context — are often used and sheltered by the powerful people — business magnets, corporations, smugglers, hoarders, politicians, black money brokers, building promoters, police and such individuals and institutions. The criminals know about their protection and thus they unleash their violent acts freely, with little or no consequence to get caught or punished. If and when, by a stroke of bad luck on their part, they are caught and forced by the society to get punishment (as in the case of the Delhi gang rape), the same people who are in power and have protected the criminals — directly or indirectly — cry for the most severe punishment (death penalty in the Indian context) and quickest possible trials, because (1) they want to show (i.e., both the ruling party politicians and the opposition, in a melee of competition — touted by media) to the ordinary people on the street that they are able to provide the strongest delivery of “justice,” and (2) a quick trial and killing off the criminals eliminate any long-term investigation into the reasons behind the crime, connections between the criminals and people in power including police and military, and any scientific exploring of psychology and modus operandi of the criminals with planned use of the criminals to understand the process of criminality — to prevent similar crimes in the future.
Most advanced countries that abolished the death penalty routinely do the above type of research, but in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan or places like them, this discussion especially after such a media-acclaimed act of barbarism would be considered impossible and futile.
Plus, criminals under more fear of a death penalty or other life-threatening, brutal consequences meted out by the angry mob get the news: next time, they will make sure the victims do not survive to identify them. The sinister, powerful connections they have will also make sure the victims do not survive for the fear of getting exposed of their connections with the underworld. They will kill the victims first, and then, the criminals. Violence will recycle on and off the street.
The above are some reasons death penalty is so counterproductive and does not deter crimes. As we’ve documented in part two of this blog (click here to see numbers and frequency), even after the December 16 gang rape followed by media explosion, there has been no respite in gang rape incidents across India. It is unlikely that hanging these rapists would put fear in the minds of other rapists and violent criminals. If anything, the future criminals will be even more violent as I indicated above.
Both the political power and their cronies are now crying blood for blood. Yet, at the same time, so many thousands of such barbarity — gang rape and other grotesque violence such as bride burning, dowry deaths, police brutality, military brutality, brutal beating of maid servants or child workers, mob lynching of a real or perceived street thief — violence absolutely commonplace in the Indian society — are practically unreported especially outside of the activist circles.
In a country like India, the poorest of the poor victim would be lucky if the people in power, politicians, business tycoons or police even listen to their complaints, let alone do anything about it. Every single day, out of the numerous unreported stories of violence and injustice on the poor and unknown, a few feature the newspaper, radio and TV — these “lucky” stories report how the poor victim banged their heads against the wall of justice, and then, how the big business magnet, political or movie celebrity or police commissioner graciously spoke and took “action.” Common experience in India is that out of a hundred cases of unspeakable injustice, maybe one or two ever get reported in the media or to the police — with a fraction of the one or two percent finding any iota of justice.