This year, the incidents of child rape have increased by 41 per cent from last year. A total of 571 incidents of child rape took place in 12 months last year. Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) has issued a statement last week demanding death penalty for the rapists of children by bringing them under the law at the quickest.
For a comparative understanding, reference may be made to a legislative amendment brought about in India last year. In the wake of a ghastly incident of child rape, India amended its Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012 introducing death penalty for aggravated penetrative child sexual abuse. The debate following this legislative amendment became polarised while the same gave the State some time and space to think through the crises.
Some of the points iterated in favour of hanging rapists convicted of child rapes are that such persons are beyond reformation and that death penalty can have deterrent effect on the potential offenders. There are also arguments against introducing death. There are expert opinions fearing that ‘death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on children may end up leaving fewer survivors while worsening the judiciary’s case burden’. There is fear that death penalty would contribute to lower conviction rate in yet another way since judges would want to be more than cent percent sure before sentencing someone to death.
Stringent punishment can certainly assuage the public outrage. However, it is about time to think whether death penalty can indeed deter such crimes or can only prove to be counterintuitive in a country like Bangladesh. Criminal justice system is a seamless web having numerous actors playing respective roles in different capacities. Without a systematic all-encompassing overhaul, stringent punishments can serve no good purpose.
From Law Desk.