Punishment is necessary, societal or judicial

A few days ago, newspapers carried a report of bestiality — four men in Malad had raped a male dog (not a bitch). The savages had tied its legs and cut its genitals. The dog kept howling in agony, which only fell on the ears of a rickshaw-driver, who then took it to the hospital, where it succumbed to its injuries and moved on to a better realm.

What depravity in the four men’s thinking led them to behave like this? Lack of basic humanity — they failed to realise they were causing pain to another living creature. By attacking an animal, they thought there would be no repercussions, so it was all right to ‘toy’ with this living being. Apparently, they never had much of an education or they would have known better. Does our education make us sensitive is a separate topic of debate, though.

A case has been registered for cruelty against those four drunk men. I wonder what punishment will be handed down to them by the court. By the way, have you ever heard of a dog sexually ill-treating a human child? Animals have more humanity than humans. These god forsaken men might have seen such brutality to themselves or have had rough lives but nothing can justify such an act.

The proposition

Some men in our society are very single-minded. They want to control everything around them but nothing inside them. They think they can possess whatever allures them, by hook or by crook. Power, money and physical strength make them feel invincible. Whatever they have set their eyes on — it could be a chocolate, money or a girl — if they want it, they must have it by any which way. This is the thought in their subconscious, so it is not any surprise then, if they are named and shamed in the #MeToo campaign.

Social awareness is not a new concept. History bears witness that women have been treated as the property of men. But since we have entered the 21st century, where our women have tasted freedom as well as independence, why not let them fly, why not just let them be?

The protagonist in Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman feels like a piece of furniture, instead of a participant who is sharing an intimate moment with her boyfriend. She feels so suffocated being metaphorically devoured in the relationship that she bakes a pink cake in the shape of a woman and dares him to eat it. “This is what you really want”, she says, offering the cake woman as a substitute to him feeding upon her.

While women are taking charge of their lives, looking after themselves and deciding their own future, men continue to be stuck in the centuries-old mentality of owning and ruining the so-called weaker sex. Should judicial punishment be punitive to them?

In favour

Our Constitution does not differentiate between men and women. It has set its rules equally for both, along judicial lines. The increasing cases of brutality call for stricter punishment for rape and molestation, as such crimes break the woman mentally and make her distrust the judicial system. There must be capital punishment for sexual crimes, as what the woman has undergone is akin to capital punishment.

An exemplary punishment would make men think at least once before committing such an act, which would hopefully save one per cent of women from sexual assault. Dismemberment sounds barbaric but the offence to the woman is no less so. Punitive laws just might enable the victim to breathe a sigh of relief, as she loses all her mental and physical strength as a consequence of the atrocity perpetrated on her.

In opposition

The minor, who was reportedly the major culprit in the Nirbhaya case was sent to a juvenile remand home just because he was a few months short of being an adult. How can the crossing of a particular age milestone alone make a person responsible for the crime he has committed? How did the judiciary help in this case? In a Vogue Empower video, actor Madhuri Dixit is shown saying that we  should teach our boys that it is their responsibility to see that women don’t cry. Instead of teaching them, ‘ladke rote nahi hain’, we should teach them, ‘ladke rulate nahi hain’.

It is the responsibility of our education system, the media, social caretakers and most importantly, the family, to ingrain the idea into young minds that men and women are independent individuals who get to choose for themselves without hurting others. Charity begins at home.

It takes a village

Whatever the outcome may be, in the end, it is the government which should take care of its subjects, and on their part, the subjects — men and women — must help each other. Only then can we hope for a positive and brighter future. It takes a village, literally, to grow in a positive and safe environment. Which is why, punishment is necessary, societal or judicial.

Pragya Jain is an educationist.
The views are personal.

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