Rape culture

Don’t make rape punishable by death, cautions Indian activist

A girl takes part in a candlelight protest in Lucknow, with a simple message for the country's sexual predators: change your ways or be ready to take our blows. (Photo credit should read Sanjay Kanojia/AFP/Getty Images)

With shocking headlines of child rape rocking India in recent days and weeks, some government officials there are calling for changes to the laws that would allow rape to be punishable by death and for juvenile rape suspects to be tried as adults. However, Kavita Krishnan, a politburo member of the Communist Party of India Liberation and the secretary of the All India Progressive Women Association, warns in an Op-Ed that doing so won’t make women and children in India any safer. Instead, she argues, “such measures will actually further deter reporting of child rapes, particularly if the rapist happens to be a close family member. They also effectively drown out the demands for steps that can really make a difference to child safety and help prevent and punish rapes of children.” Krishnan goes on to explore some of the mechanics of rape culture including “when ‘protectors’ are the perpetrators,” “the intimate enemy,” and how law enforcement in India approaches the policing of rape.

Krishnan believes that instead of focusing on harsher punishments, authorities in India should be enticing people to report sex crimes more often by bringing the subject of rape “out of the shadows.” Campaigns centered on education both in schools for young children and the public at large are key in turning around the taboo status rape has achieved there, she writes. And she contends the world press, in addition to media in India, can help. “It is important to challenge the glib manner,” Krishnan writes, “in which child sexual abuse and rape in India are blamed by both Indian and international media on ‘Indian culture’ and backward ‘mindsets.'”

Read the full Op-Ed at Scroll.In.

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