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Empower Indian women

Publication Date : 03-01-2013


Those who are clamouring for more stringent laws to curb rape and other crimes against women should realise that it is the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government with Congress president Sonia Gandhi as its chairperson that was responsible for showing mercy in the last few years to seven rapists.

Satish, a resident of Meerut, raped and killed a girl in 2001. His death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court. The first woman President of India, Pratibha Patil, pardoned him on the advice of the Union home ministry. 

Although Article 72 of the Constitution empowers the president to grant pardon, to suspend, remit or commute sentences, he or she can exercise that power only on the advice of the Home ministry and that advice is binding on the president.

Dharmender Singh and Narendra Yadav were sentenced to death for murdering a family of five and raping the young daughter of the family.

Bandu Baburao Tidke was sentenced to death for raping and killing a girl in Karnataka. His death sentence was commuted last year but he had died four years earlier. Bantu was sentenced to death for raping and killing a minor girl in Uttar Pradesh. He was pardoned by the president. In Madhya Pradesh, a jailer’s teen-aged daughter was raped and killed by jail guard Molai Ram and prisoner Santosh Yadav. Their death sentence was also commuted by the President Patil.

Women and those who support their cause should not be carried away by the rhetoric of politicians in power who are promising to enact laws to chemically castrate and even hang rapists. India is a signatory to international conventions which prohibit barbaric punishments.

What has happened on the streets of Delhi and in other parts of the country following the gang-rape of a 23-year-old student represents the pent-up anger and dissatisfaction of the people against poor governance by the UPA.

Rather than depend on the government, young girls and women would be better advised to rely on self-help initiatives and take security in their own hands to ward off lurking rapists.

A canister of chili and pepper spray will, we wager, work better than the Prime Minister’s promises. Training in ancient martial arts like kalaripayattu of Kerala, taekwondo of Korea and judo of Japan would ward off rapists better than the Home Minister’s security measures.

Increased patrolling by police is no substitute for self-help. Rameeza Bee, a young Hyderabad woman, who was returning home with her husband after a late show in a city theatre, was picked up by the police and taken to the station on the pretext of questioning. When her husband protested, he was beaten to death. All the men at the station repeatedly raped her, and the Congress government of the day refused to act against the guilty policemen, saying Rameeza Bee was a woman of loose character.

In neighbouring Tamil Nadu, a Dalit woman called Padmini who went to the Annamalai Nagar police station where her husband Nandagopal was detained, was raped by 11 policemen. Nandagopal was beaten to death in custody. The Supreme Court pulled up the trial court and the High Court for not charging the accused with murder under Section 302 IPC. Obviously, the police cannot be expected to slap murder charges on their own colleagues.

Justice Markandey Katju, who wrote the Supreme Court judgment on the Padmini case said: “If ever there was a case which cried out for death penalty it is this one, but it is deeply regrettable that not only was no such penalty imposed but not even a charge under Section 302 IPC was framed.”

With such a police force, how can the government assure women of protection?


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