It is debatable whether harsher punishments will lead to fewer crimes against women.
The horrific reports from Haryana of gangrape, torture and murder of minor girls, even necrophilia, are too gruesome for our kids to read. These are the depths of bestial behavior man is coming down to and the northern state isn’t exceptional in terms of rape nationally. But there’s a message in that the children so brutalised are mostly from poor and most disadvantaged communities. In a state with just about improved sex ratio of 914 girls per 1,000 boys, the question is also whether attitudes are mainly to blame. How else can one explain why Haryana leads India in gangrapes every year — 191 gangrapes in 2016 of 1,187 rapes, going by NCRB data? This is made worse by the terrible nature of Nirbahaya-like crimes.
It is debatable whether harsher punishments will lead to fewer crimes against women. What’s far more important is for the government and leaders to be seen as proactive in condemning these incidents and enunciating outrage publicly rather than just saying arrests will be made and the law will take its own course. It may take decades to bring about a transformation in the mindset of Haryana’s men — as the state faces the additional social problem of an atavistic contempt of the former lower classes, that is reflected in a study of the living conditions of victims and in the reactions of predominant communities to such crimes. While the nation wonders what to make of Haryana’s law and order situation, the state must try harder to ensure that it treats all sections of society equitably.