8-month-old baby raped in Delhi: Outrage won't save India's children from sexual assault; stringent laws needed

What exactly is the point of being outraged over the rape of an eight-month-old baby in Delhi? Even the term "outrage" as a label has become so dreary and dull that it's almost obscene to even use it.

The act itself is unspeakable, it sends shudders up your spine, makes you choke on your own bile — but it is the immediate return to the cadence of daily life that is cause for concern.

 8-month-old baby raped in Delhi: Outrage wont save Indias children from sexual assault; stringent laws needed

Representational Image. Reuters

After the protest and the brief display of fury, nothing happens that can prove that the system means business. And in the case of children and babies and minors being sexually assaulted, the rule book cannot become a refuge for the creepy crawly subhuman perpetrators.

Merely arresting the culprit in this case is scarcely a deterrent and does not serve the purpose. The man is still afforded confidentiality; there is no name, no photograph, no blow-by-blow account of what will be done with him. Nobody knows what he looks like, this ghoul, and nobody can confirm if he will one day be let loose on the public yet again, so he can perform another ghastly deed.

We are now almost taking pride in calling Delhi the rape capital of the world, in comparing it with Sao Paulo as if it was some sort of achievement, one that was difficult to attain but even tougher to maintain.

As for the rape survivor, there can be no doubt that the slow, creaking and overburdened judicial system can afford her any remedy. The victim is left to herself and the culprit disappears into the legal abyss. In a couple of days, nobody has any idea where he is, and nobody cares.

Are we prepared to grasp this issue and address it in order to create a new set of laws for the 21st Century to protect our children? Already one in three rapes across India — which cross an average of 11,000 a year as per the National Crime Records Bureau — involves a minor. Uncles, neighbours, domestic helps, etc — they have all been found guilty of sexually assaulting minor children. In 2016, there were 2,155 reported rapes from Delhi alone, reported IndiaSpend.

After the 2012 New Delhi gangrape and murder case, it was believed that justice would be fast-tracked and punishments made stringent, but it has only strengthened the belief that rapists aren't really "different"; they are rather regular men with a rampant libido. The indulgent attitude by the political and bureaucratic classes contributes to this "chalta hain" attitude. Even so-called leaders have gone on record "understanding" this biological need. Just last week, a teacher in Raipur blamed rape victims, saying they "invite" assault through their attire.

In the case of the eight-month-old baby, the perpetrator was her cousin, so his identity will remain hidden. The penalty he gets will not be seen by the public, so it will be notional, and won't stop the next subhuman from attacking another helpless child.

We have to recognise these crimes as being outside the purview of human conduct, and we have to use the media effectively to put the fear of God into any aspirant, even if the thought of public punishment makes us cringe. Unless the response is up close and personal, this category of men (if they can be called that) will flourish and continue their ugliness.

The main factor is we, the people, do not take laws seriously. Either we ignore them, or use our heft and influence to bypass them, or bribe our way out of them. This contempt for laws encourages criminal behavior. There is no fear of consequences, largely because we have no idea what happened in precedence.

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Updated Date: Jan 31, 2018 16:16:14 IST