Two things strike me as the outrage over Jyoti’s assault and death bubble over in Delhi. First, the public now has the mileage to force the politicians to make some really important and long overdue changes. Second, this initiative is being completely wasted in useless knee jerk responses.
Forget the death penalty for rapists for god’s sake. It won’t work. Not because we want to be soft on crime but because there are too many issues that will actually make women’s situation worse. What is important is not the quantum of punishment, but the certainty of punishment. In a land where the police refuse to register even an FIR for cases of rape and try and “bring peace” between the rapist and the victim, what the hell is the use of a harsher end game penalty?
Sorry to say but the state of affairs goes well beyond rape. We need comprehensive police reforms that change the way the police force itself works. This is the only real way to improve things. In 2006, the Supreme Court recommended several police reforms that are desperately needed and that states need to implement. Things like ensuring the independence of the police force from the politicians. This is what’s needed. Not some stupid half chewed thoughts on torturing rapists or castrating them.
The judicial system also needs to be changed so that cases move quickly. These are big things, but public anger is at a boil right now. We have the momentum and power to change important things provided that outrage is channeled into something useful. Not mindless demands for bloodthirsty revenge.
Public anger and momentum is one of the few weapons we have today to enact meaningful reforms. If it’s squandered over trivialities it would be a tragic loss. At the very least we want the death of the poor girl to have some meaning. So please pass this on. Stop talking about harsher punishments etc and focus on police and judicial reforms. Demanding that the states implement the police reforms recommended by the SC will be a great first step. Then demand that vacant posts in the judiciary be filled. It’s a start and it’ll mean that Jyoti’s death wasn’t in vain.