Amid protests over the death of a Delhi rape victim from wounds suffered at the hands of her attackers, the Indian government is reportedly considering banning rape altogether to prevent future fatalities.
Sources close to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh say that although the government is loath to regulate the “sexual choices” of its citizens, rape’s strong association with “real violence” such as this month’s deadly attack has left parliament no choice but to intervene.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Currant, India’s Law and Justice Minister Ashwani Kumar says forcible sex could be outlawed within weeks as a result of the incident.
“It’s such a terrible tragedy when a small nuisance like rape turns into to something tragic like murder,” Kumar says. “Yes, the government has known that rape is a problem in society. But we always thought of it as akin to smoking: something to be frowned upon, but not criminalized or prosecuted.
“Now we have this horrible event which reminds us that sometimes rape can have negative consequences.”
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Kumar says that his ruling Congress Party will introduce a bill within days that criminalizes all rapes and allocates generous resources to pursue prosecutions of rapists.
Upon its enactment, the bill will mandate long prison terms for offenders and shorter ones for police officers who do not investigate allegations of rape fully. If approved, the law will take effect at the end of the year.
“Maybe we should have done this earlier,” Kumar adds, ‘”but we’ve been busy. Delhi needs a new metro. Mumbai needs a new airport terminal. Sunny Leone is transitioning to Bollywood. There’s a lot of stuff on our minds right now, we’re doing the best we can.”
Although he intends to give the bill his full support, Kumur makes clear that the government has come to this decision reluctantly:
“We’ve neglected the issue of sexual violence in our society because frankly I think who someone is sleeping with should be a private affair. If the government goes around telling rapists who they can and can’t have sex with, what is next? Are they going to tell me which of my wife’s orifices I should use?
“It”s a slippery slope and one I wish I didn’t have to face. But if rapists can’t behave responsibly we’re left with no choice but to ban rape altogether.”
According to official statistics, two women are raped every hour in India, but only 26 percent of rapists are ever punished by the law.