India has been wracked by a series of street protests by thousands of demonstrators, angry over the gang-rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in Delhi last week.
The horrific incident that has caused the uproar is truly sad — six men brutally beat the woman and her male companion, raped her and then threw both off the bus. Their heinous act was shrouded by the tinted windows of the bus, but once the full horror of their act came to light, uproar ensued. Clearly, the manner in which women are treated and the way they regularly become victims of crime in India need to be addressed. Alarmingly, the rate of conviction for rape offences is at 26 per cent — and this despite shield laws that are meant to protect the victim as she testifies in court. Members of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary need to ensure that sex-crimes are treated with the gravity they deserve and they are not left to fester in bureaucratic logjams of paper and process. Justice delayed is justice denied, particularly when the victims themselves have been violated in the most grievous manner.
In addition, when convictions are secured, they need to be severe. While demonstrators call for death penalty in rape cases, that seems a little off the mark — considering that jails are already full of convicts awaiting the ultimate fate and political and regional influences hold sway. What is not helpful is a section of agitators trying to gain political mileage out of lathi charges.