Thursday, May 19, 2005

A Nasty Violent Thought

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.


hibiscus said...

Oh, I agree, I agree, I agree! There is just no outlet for the helpless rage a violated woman feels. And when society snickers, looks away or otherwise tacitly condones molestation and rape (not to mention casting aspersions on the victim much of the time), why should a woman not be allowed to exact a satisfying form of revenge? A nice thought, heh heh. On the flip side, though, the floggee will probably stalk the woman after the event and "punish" her. So I guess it'll remain in the realm of fantasy. This brings to mind a wish-fulfilment type of Hindi movie where a group of women who have been raped and denied justice get together and castrate their attackers. Can't recall any details, though.

Marginalien said...

Hola, hibiscus, thanks for visiting. I'm glad to find that I'm not entirely alone in thinking this might be a satisfying solution! I was starting to worry ...

My take on castration as a punishment for rape is that it fails on two counts to deliver what I would consider a worthwhile result. One, it leaves the perp in a state of fury (and thus capable of wreaking revenge through friends/accomplices). Two, it raises the violence to a higher (surgical) level, which, in my belief glamourizes the crime -- as with death penalty. It would give rapists the idea that they were performing a heroic act, risking their very manhood. Also, because of its extreme nature, it would only very rarely be awarded as a punishment, to worst-case offenders.

The thing about flogging/whipping is that it would be unforgettably painful and humiliating, without causing irreversible damage. The rapist would feel banged about by reality, but not enough to receive sympathy. Best of all, though, in my opinion, is that it could help the victim regain confidence in herself. I think that must be the loss that is hardest for a victim of rape to deal with -- the sense of being trampled upon from within. I think the floggee may find himself unable to attack a woman who had physically attacked him.

Of course, it is easy enough to theorize about stuff that'll never make it to reality! *sigh*

a.a said...

How about this.. just saw it today and was reminded of your post.

Outrage over anti-rape 'tampon' device

The device - which has been patented by its inventor, Sonette Ehlers - is worn like a tampon but is hollow.

In the event of a rape, she says, it will fold around the rapist's penis and attach itself with microscopic hooks. It is impossible to remove the clamped device without medical intervention.

[Source: CourierMail Australia]
Here is the link

Ouch !!