13 days after the unfortunate incident of gang-rape in a moving school bus in Saket, a piece of news arrives from Singapore informing the nation that the victim has breathed her last. Reactions mixed with outrage, sadness, shock and disgust mark the news, headlines and Facebook status messages all over the country. Weeping women, sympathizing men, helpless police and reticent government officials feature on all news channels (including India TV). Some demand the hanging of culprits, others demand their castration, and many others suggest many more creative punishments in hope of justice.
In the midst of all this, a few questions arise too: Can justice be achieved only by bringing the convicts to retribution? Will the castration of convicts prevent rapes in future? Had the victim survived, would her life have become normal the instant the convicts would be punished? Books and movies describing (probably, in intricate detail) the egregious incident are already in minds of many authors and directors. I wonder how many of them would address these questions and attempt to find their answers.
Can justice be achieved only by bringing the convicts to retribution?
If the answer to this question is a plain "YES", then the problem is quite easily solved. Hang the convicts! But neither the answer is so direct, nor the problem is so easy. A violated mind seeks revenge, and when the violated mind is convinced it is right, its desire for revenge increases. Justice is nothing but that revenge in disguise. Still, there is somewhere a huge difference between the two. I say so because justice has always had a positive connotation while revenge has had negative. Then where does lie the difference?
To understand this difference the focus should be on the victim, the one who is demanding justice / revenge. Is the demand for justice / revenge coming out of resentment that he / she feels for his / her fault or is it coming out of agony that he / she feels because of fault of the convict. I do not think any human mind that has learnt this news has a doubt about the category in which a rape (in this case gang-rape) victim falls.
Will the castration of convicts prevent rapes in future?
I feel the answer to this question can be found with sheer logic and staying unaffected by emotions. If the answer to this is no, then there has to be some other punishment? If the answer is yes, I guess one is talking about castrating each and every man on earth! However, I still wonder if you can prevent a castrated man from inserting a rod inside a helpless woman!
Had the victim survived, would her life have become normal the instant the convicts would be punished?
This is the most important of all questions and demands serious introspection. If the victim is saved and the convicts are punished, do we provide a society where the victim can again be a part of it like before? Will the women accept her normally and not out of social pressure, sympathy or mercy? Will a man accept the proposal of a rape victim if offered in marriage? (Forget accepting, will he even consider?) As much easy as it is to say or even show in actions, it is far more difficult to accept in mind. And so this becomes the biggest problem, bigger than the rape incidents and the punishments coming along; for this requires a change in self and not the system and humans do suffer from bad eyesight when they look into the mirror.
No rules, no laws and no government are capable of preventing crimes. They can, at max, punish the convicts. To control crime, change has to come from within. There has to be respect for woman, empathy for others and numerous other positive inner transformations our parents, grandparents, teachers and scriptures have taught over the generations. Shedding these thoughts might have appeared cool but the effects of shedding them are, clearly, far more uncool!!