Women`s organisations welcome Dec 16 gangrape case verdict

Women`s organisations today welcomed the death sentence awarded to four convicts in the December 16 gangrape case, but said only capital punishment is not a deterrent and swiftness and surety of punishment will be more effective in preventing such crimes.

New Delhi: Women`s organisations today welcomed the death sentence awarded to four convicts in the December 16 gangrape case, but said only capital punishment is not a deterrent and swiftness and surety of punishment will be more effective in preventing such crimes.

They said other similar cases should also get attention and demanded effective and efficient policing so that criminals do not get away with such crimes.

"This was a heinous crime, but it is not the time for celebrations but for sober reflections. It`s time to remember Nirbhaya and many other Nirbhayas in the country who are yet to get justice," Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of All India Progressive Women`s Association, said.

She said there were many rape victims who needed to be heard. In the rape and murder case of Thangjam Manorama, allegedly by Assam Rifles jawans in 2004, Krishnan said, "We have not been able get the case registered. Her dead body was found with several bullet wounds, including on her genitalia."

She said death penalty is not a deterrent to rapes. Supporting her views, Kalpana Vishwanathan of NGO Jagori said surveys conducted abroad have shown that capital punishment does not work as a deterrent in rape cases.

"...Better policing, change in mindset, swiftness and surety of punishment and ending impunity will help as deterrent in crime against women," she said, adding that it is good that the December 16 gangrape case reached its conclusion and the convicts were sentenced quickly.

Holding that death sentence to the four convicts was within the "legal framework of the law", CPI(M) Leader Brinda Karat said the brutal gangrape and murder of the girl was a rarest of the rare case, "and in the present legal framework, they have got the death sentence."

Nisha Agarwal of Oxfam India said the need of the hour is deep "attitudinal and behavioural shifts" which enables women to live a violence-free life. "We hope that all cases of violence against women are dealt with in a fast-track manner."

Former IPS official Kiran Bedi said she was "relieved to see beast sent to hell." "If this happens in each case, message will be one. U commit such crime u go to hell! Clear message to parents and teachers and community at large. Be responsible! Or be hung! And lose your life. Thank u for Justice Done!" Bedi tweeted.

Meanwhile, chief of radical women`s outfit Dukhtaran-e- Millat in Srinagar, Aasiya Indrabi, alleged that the speedy justice to Delhi gangrape victim has "exposed double standards of the judiciary" as families of similar victims in Kashmir were running around the courts for several years now.

"The victim of Delhi gangrape got justice within nine months but cases of our daughters like Tabinda Gani and Romana Javed have been going on for years now," Indrabi said in a statement.

Tabinda, a 12-year-old from north Kashmir`s Handwara town, was gangraped and murdered by four youths in 2006 while 17-year-old Romana was killed four years ago when the accused ran his car over her after she rejected his advances.

However, women`s organisations here are of the view that without police and judicial reforms, the conviction in this case would remain one off.

Ruchira Gupta, founder of NGO Apne Aap Women, said policemen patrolling the area, when the unlicensed driver was driving the bus in which the crime was committed, were yet to be punished. "Or what has happened to the policemen on duty in Tihar jail, India`s maximum-security prison, when the prime accused, Ram Singh committed suicide."

Gupta said on an average, rape cases take six to eight years to come to trial in India. There are more than 90,000 rape cases pending trial even now.

"These convictions, in just nine months, are a tribute to the vocal women`s movement, which has not allowed the spotlight to dim on the case," she added.

All India Democratic Women`s Organisation said the violence inflicted on the 23-year-old paramedical student elicited tremendous protests which resulted in changes to the law and to speedy trial in this case in a fast track court.

"Unfortunately, this is not the case in thousands of cases all over the country. AIDWA demands fast track and compensation become the norm for all. The harsh punishment is within the parameters of the law," AIDWA said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International India said far-reaching procedural and institutional reform, and not the death penalty, was needed to tackle the endemic problem of violence against women in India.
"The rape and murder of the young woman in Delhi last year was a horrific crime and our deepest sympathy goes out to the victim`s family. Those responsible must be punished, but the death penalty is never the answer," Tara Rao, Director of Amnesty International India, said.
"Sending these four men to the gallows will accomplish nothing except short-term revenge. While the widespread anger over this case is understandable, authorities must avoid using the death penalty as a `quick-fix` solution," Rao said.

PTI