After protests that have lasted for close to a fortnight, people have inundated a committee that will look into the amendment of laws pertaining to sexual assault of women with suggestions that run into the thousands within a little over a week of it being formed.
The Indian Express reported that the committee headed by retired Justice JS Verma has received 17,000 emails so far within eight days of it inviting suggestions. And according to the report, there’s no ebb in the flow of suggestions with hundreds of e-mails flooding the inbox of the committee by the hour.
The last day for suggestions to be received by the committee is 5 January and a group of legal experts are reportedly already scrutinising the suggestions that are being received. It didn’t hurt that the advertisement issued by the committee was circulated widely over the internet and social media networks, which has prompted many to send in their suggestions to the committee.
Suggestions in the online world have ranged from chemical castration to death penalty for rapists, the greater the punishment the greater favour it has found on social networks. Even Parliamentarians like Sushma Swaraj have endorsed the rejection of mercy petitions for rapists on death row once it has been confirmed by a court.
However, some have questioned the point of increasing the punishment, pointing that what needs changing is the process of handling rape cases with faster court processes and faster convictions. Firstpost has also pointed out that the harsh punishments can be little more than a temporary solution that might just help them stem the outrage and possibly even earn them brownie points.
We can expect the simplest recommendations of the Justice JS Verma committee to be implemented promptly. We can perhaps expect to see the death penalty for extreme rape cases being introduced, and if our leaders give into our thirst for extreme measures maybe even chemical castration.
But it will be the small tweaks that will matter. It will the definition of the expansion of rape, changing the way the police force across the country operations and faster legal processes across the country which will aid the cause of safety of women. Unfortunately not all of this makes it into the ambit of the committee. Expecting to amend the law and then hoping for everyone in the chain of command to follow it has been seen to be a flawed approach throughout. The more holistic approach to ensure women’s safety would need to be made outside the committee by the government of the day, and there’s no sign of that happening anytime soon.