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This article is originally written by Khushbakht Vaka
A lot is being written about public hangings for rapists and pedophiles being a solution. While I fully understand the public anger against such criminals, I believe such executions would only aggravate the problems existing in our society.
The Pakistani people are marred by many problems, including poverty and inflation among others. The public mood in general is gloomy. We are a people hardened by difficult circumstances. Nations strive to uplift public morale by investing in recreational activities like sports, music, arts, drama, etc. And in our case, even the highly educated among us are calling for public hangings of rapists as a solution without recognizing the repercussions it would have on the collective psyche of the masses.
One recalls the unfortunate incidents of mob lynching that were reported in Pakistan over the last few years.
A Christian couple was burnt to death in the town of Kot Radha Kishan in 2014.
Mashal Khan was brutally killed in Mardan in 2017. The public chose to take the law into their own hands and punish these individuals without a fair trial. One might assume that the nature of the alleged crime was such that most Muslims would be riled up and prepared to bring the perpetrator to justice. However, that argument does not hold weight when we consider the case of Mughees and Muneeb Butt.
In 2010, Mughees and Muneed Butt were accused of robbery and murder. A charged mob beat them to death in Sialkot in broad daylight. In this case, accusations of robbery and murder were enough to provoke large crowds to murder these two young men. It makes me wonder if the seriousness of the alleged crime is really the reason masses decide to take law into their own hands. I don’t think so.
As mentioned earlier, most Pakistani people are not happy with their current state of affairs.
Would a spectacle like a public execution really help their cause? Not really. It would worsen the problems of an already sad and angry nation.
The psychological effects of such a move would be highly damaging. Public executions will sensationalize the death of another human being and become a source of entertainment for the masses. It will dehumanize the condemned person which is not really tasteful, no matter how vile the said individual may be.
Such gruesome images will harden the masses and acclimate them to violence. If this happens, we should expect a rise in cases of public lynchings and individuals taking law into their hands. Such a move will not help public mood and morality.
There is also little evidence to suggest that harsher punishments deter crime. According to the National Institute of Justice which falls under the US Department of Justice, “the certainty of being caught is a more effective deterrent than the punishment itself”. The sight of police patrols and vehicles is likely have an effect on the criminal and may dissuade him or her from breaking the law.
Some countries with the lowest crime rates in the world have either abolished capital punishment or have sentenced not anyone to death in recent years.
These countries include Finland, Iceland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Austria, Australia, Netherlands, Spain and Canada.
It is the effective implementation of law and order in these countries that makes the real difference. Authorities ensure that there are controls and systems in place that increase the likelihood of the perpetrator being caught and ensure he or she is brought to justice. On the other hand, in countries like Pakistan, most crimes go unreported.
This is particularly true for cases related to sexual violence against women and children. Such stories are brushed under the carpet to protect the victim and their family’s “honour”. Therefore, I believe that the real problem does not lie with Pakistani law. The problem is with the implementation of the law and also with the collective mindset of our society.
Steps need to be taken to strengthen our criminal justice system and create awareness amongst the masses.
The public needs to be given the confidence that rape does not bring shame to their family; it is the rapist who should be guilty, and it is their duty to report the offender to the police.
Such awareness campaigns should be carried out by the government on a countrywide level. Sex education should be made compulsory in schools so children can differentiate between a good touch and a bad touch. Further, self-defence tactics should be taught to all children and women.
I understand the public rage against rapists and they deserve to be punished. However, retribution can be carried out by executing the criminal in a private cell or sentencing him or her to life in prison.
Hanging rapists in public will only exacerbate our problems, Effective implementation of law and public awareness campaigns are the real solutions to the rape culture in our society.