JUSTICE FOR CHILD RAPE
The country appears to be switched on to another
amend-the-law mode following two dreadful cases of child rape and murder. Out of
our raging fury comes all kinds of suggestions for punishments, ranging from
lynch mobs to castration. However, it is difficult to determine whether the
proposed adjustments would provide the most effective and practical deterrent
against such inhuman acts.
At present, the rape charge under the Penal Code carries a mandatory jail
term of between five and twenty years as well as whipping. Murder is punishable
with the mandatory death penalty. Logically, there fore it is unwise to amend
the law to make rape equally subject to the ultimate punishment because that
would make the rapist resort to killing his victim since he would think that he
has nothing to lose. But then rapists, as psychologists say, act large on
overpowering impulse, and when committing the act, do not stop to think about
what punishment they might face.
What is clear is that there must be a more deterrent law on rape, and if need
be, a specific law on child rape. At present, 67% of rape victims are under 16
years of age. There are calls for stiffer punishments under the Penal Code which
must reflect the severity of the crime.
Stiffer punishment could take many forms. This includes shaming the
perpetrators by flogging them in public as suggested by Rais but opposed by the
Bar Council, which says that it will not make a difference. Not too long ago,
the idea of castration as also brought up but has yet to be taken up by
Perhaps there has to be a study as to what would deter a would-be rapist most
from committing the act. If castration or the threat of it serves the purpose,
then the law should be amended to provide for this. Other changes to the
criminal justice system, such as police methods and parole procedures, must also
be considered. The bottom line is to ensure the safety of our children and the
security of our environment.