2012 is etched in every Indian’s memory as the year when the Nirbhaya gang-rape case occurred. It is also the year when a student of National Law School of India University, Bangalore, was gang-raped by 8 people inside the university’s Jnanabharathi campus. However, in this case, the victim survived, discontinued her studies, and returned to her home country Nepal. But does that make the incident any less gruesome than the former?
Same was the question raised by Karnataka High Court recently. Nirbhaya’s convicts received the death penalty because the victim died but the Bangalore convicts received life imprisonment. According to The New Indian Express, the Karnataka HC has suggested making an amendment to IPC Section 376D dealing with gang-rape, whereby all convicts of gang-raping shall receive a death penalty, irrespective of whether the victim dies or not.
“Between Nirbhaya’s case and the present case, the only difference is that in the case of Nirbhaya, the victim died after the brutal attack on her, but in the present case, the victim has discontinued her law course and returned to her native country — Nepal — with all curse,” said the division bench comprising of Justice B. Veerappa and Justice K. Natarajan.
They went on to add that gang-rape is more dangerous than murder, reports The Hindu.
The bench claimed that rape is not only a crime against women but against the entire civil society and said, “The accused have no principles of life.”
“We are not proud to say that India has not achieved empowerment of women even after seven decades of Independence. The day a woman can walk freely on the roads at night, that day we can say that India has achieved independence,” they said.
To make a larger change to how society sees women, the bench suggested that every child should be taught to respect women, and schools should make “gender equality” a part of their curriculum. Alongside this, personality-building and skill-enhancing exercises must be added and teachers/parents should keep the kids’ behavioral patterns in check.
The also suggested that the government, media, and employers must more take steps to create awareness about women’s safety.
While such an extreme punishment might raise fear in the minds of potential rapists, the suggestion of addressing the problem in its grass-root level is accurate. When kids are taught to be sensitive, respectful, and non-discriminatory towards all genders, when their problematic behavioral patterns are checked and rectified, it is then when we will move forward towards making the society a safe space for women.