Today I had a nasty, violent thought -- so of course, I had to share it here. It grew out of the recent Sunday's instalment of "WE, THE PEOPLE" (a talk show on NDTV hosted by the excellent Barkha Dutt). The topic was the sharp rise in incidents of rape around the country.
One of the questions asked was, "Do you believe that capital punishment for rapists will be a good deterrent?" The audience was undecided -- but apparently the reason for their uncertainty was that it wouldn't make a difference when amongst the problems a victim faces is inaction on the part of the Establishment at the time she brings her complaint. One of the statistics quoted during the program was that only 14% of cases reported in [the country] -- I'm not sure now whether that number is for the whole country or just one of the metros -- reach the courts. When asked to discuss solutions, the audience seemed to be at a loss. The consensus seemed to be that women should arm themselves with pepperspray and be afraid, be very afraid.
My nasty violent thought isn't about deterrence or capital punishment(to which I am opposed). But it is about what to do about the psychological trauma that victims are left to deal with. I was wondering whether, as a form of therapy for rape victims AND as a suitable punishment for the perpetrators, the victims could be allowed to flog their assailants? Given that there's no way for a victim to recover her self-esteem, honour, etc etc -- how about letting her externalize her sense of outrage in a physical way? On the one hand, I imagine it would be powerful medicine for her damaged ego; on the other hand, it may be a more effective deterrent than the death penalty -- which, as we know, is no deterrent at all.
Yes, it does suggest a brutalized, barbaric, degenerate society. But so does the escalation in the rate of crimes. During the program (of which I watched only a couple of segments) I didn't hear any discussion of the possible causes for this rise in crimes against women. It seems to me that one very obvious cause is the skewed male/female ration -- which is, of course, only getting worse annually. According to demographers, what lies ahead for (Indian) women is the prospect of becoming further and further marginalized and commodified, subject to kidnappings, forced marriages, marriages to several brothers at once and other horrors. Given these facts, it seems to me, for those 14% of victims who get their day in court, the prospect of whipping their assailant (semi-naked? Forty lashes? Whatever) in full view of the court would at least have the benefit of permitting them a moment of pleasurable revenge and may go a long way towards recovering their self-esteem.
Sorry if this nauseates some of you! Gotta express my dark side now and then.