Sir — I was shocked to hear of the gruesome incident involving a 23-year-old paramedical student and her male friend. The girl was brutally raped — and both her friend and she were badly beaten up — by a group of drunken men in a private bus in Delhi (“In it together”, Dec 20). It is ironic that India should be such an unsafe place for women when some of the most powerful people in the country are women. Sonia Gandhi is the chief of the ruling party at the Centre; Meira Kumar and Sushma Swaraj are the Speaker and the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, respectively. Sheila Dikshit is the chief minister of Delhi. Even the deputy chief of police of south Delhi — where the bus in which the heinous crime took place roamed around — is a woman. However, none of them could ensure the girl’s safety.
The incident in question is one of the rare cases where there is enough evidence to indict and mete out severe punishment to the guilty. Instead of only discussing the matter on news channels, it is time government and local officials put a stop to such crimes. The accused have been arrested and Dikshit has cancelled the permit of the bus in which the crime took place. But these steps are not enough. Dikshit must take immediate and pre-emptive steps to curb this menace in Delhi. The survivor has been severely injured and is in a critical condition. New laws to ensure the safety of women ought to be passed quickly. Mere rhetoric will not do.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad
Sir — The audacity with which the gang rape in Delhi took place proves that the perpetrators do not fear the law of the land. Over the past few years, there has been a huge surge in the number of reported rapes, with Delhi clocking the highest numbers. Men in our society have undergone severe moral degradation. How else can one explain the increasing number of rape cases in a country where goddesses are worshipped? Rape as a crime should be considered as heinous as murder, and punishment should be meted out accordingly. A good number of fast track courts — five have been approved for the trial of the rapists in the current case — should be set up to ensure speedy justice for the victims. It is a matter of shame for society and for the government if women cannot feel safe. Rapists are perhaps the worst sort of criminals. They need to be dealt with firmly. Perhaps women need to be armed with guns in order to feel safe in India.
Abhishek Pandey, Calcutta
Sir — Exemplary punishment must be meted out to the accused in the gang rape incident. Delhi has acquired the dubious label of being the ‘rape capital’ of India. People with criminal tendencies do not fear the law. They are confident of going scot free after committing the crime, while survivors often have no hope of getting justice. Women feel more and more vulnerable as the government has failed to protect them. Crimes like rape leave survivors scarred. The social stigma attached to rape makes life even more difficult for women. The criminals must be severely punished if there is to be even a semblance of civilized life in the capital. The government should take stringent steps to ensure that criminal activity reduces drastically.
Zulfikhar Akram, Bangalore
Sir — The grievous sexual assault on the paramedical student in Delhi has not merely horrified me, it has also left me seething with rage as a citizen and as a woman. Rape per se — and as an act as appalling and sadistic as the present case, where the victim has been left fighting for her life — deserves the strongest of punishments. Acts such as these go beyond the question of ethics.
Handing out the death penalty is not a deterrent. What is necessary, is striking at the root of the problem — the ‘machismo’ of sex offenders. Men who commit such crimes should be legally rendered incapable of procreation. This fact should be made public so that potential offenders think twice before indulging in a bit of vicarious ‘pleasure’. This kind of penalty should be deemed fit for such people.
Kamalini Mazumder, Calcutta
Sir — The increasing number of rape in Delhi is yet another indicator of how the police and the government do not do their job of protecting women. The young girl who was gang raped in Delhi was accompanied by a male friend, but even his presence could not save her. What else are women supposed to do to protect themselves? Must they be accompanied by their whole families wherever they go? Rapes continue unabated but no constructive action seems to be taken. Moreover, women are almost always blamed for having ‘invited’ rape. One wonders when the police will realize that they are paid to do their jobs. There is no police patrolling in many parts of Delhi, and no police checkposts where they are required. How can the police guarantee the safety of women? Nothing can make up for the trauma that the young girl has suffered. Capital punishment is perhaps the only way to deal with rapists.
Moitrayee Das, Tezpur