by Roel Raymond
How is it that concerned parents, activists and citizens of this island find it possible to hand over to a government incapable thus far of even acknowledging injustices to women, children and other marginalized sections of our society, the right to impose death as a penalty for crime?
Do people truly have faith in the government and judicial process that they ask, nay; agitate, for the enactment of the death penalty that will give authorities a citizen-sanctioned right to put to death a member of our own citizenry?
Has not the weakness and vulnerability of our judicial system been proven repeatedly in the way in which it is susceptible to influence and intervention, open to politicization and meddling, and ponderous and slow in handing out justice?
While public outrage at the rise in crimes against children is wonderful to behold, giving a government that has not proved its commitment to safeguarding the rights of any of its citizens (majority, minority, rich, poor, LGBT, women, children) the right to impose death as a penalty for crime would be folly.
Death as a penalty for crime can only be justified in the existence of a healthy, robust, independent system of justice. In the absence of such, it would be far better for the public to agitate for a re-haul of the way in which rape, domestic violence and child abuse is perceived and dealt with in this country.
This could include:
1) Establishing separate courts for crimes against women and children ensuring a speedier legal process.
2) Implementing harsher, more practical sentences on perpetrators that could include (but is not limited to) having to pay a lifetime of financial recompense to victims – finances that can be used for very necessary, but currently absent psychological and trauma treatment for the victim.
3) Establishing an up-to-date database on sex offenders. This is a must and is a way in which communities, neighbourhoods and gramasevaka divisions can be immediately notified and keep tabs on a criminal out after having served his term in prison.
4) Having the perpetrators bear the lifetime brunt and social stigma of the crime he committed (a burden currently borne by the victim) by having posters of his face plastered on community walls, gramasevaka offices, and so forth and so on, warning citizens, parents and children of the criminals impeding release or release.
5) Ensuring that the perpetrator (no matter what kinship to the victim) is not allowed to go within a court established radius of the victim.
These are only a few, simple, more practical suggestions to ensure perpetrators of such horrific crimes against women and children (both boys and girls) take life-long responsibility for their actions.
There are those that say these acts are that of sexual deviancy, and that deviancy is inherent and cannot be stopped or changed; but the current situation in Sri Lanka is not the result of sexual deviancy, but the accumulated results of pent-up frustration, of inhibitions that find release in inebriation, of a culture of increasing violence, of the desperate need for power to counter feelings of impotence, helplessness and disempowerment, and of the absence of information, conversation and education around the subject of sex — and these factors can be changed.
It would be wiser then, if we the people, demand and agitate for a change; a change of perception and a change in the manner in which law and order is implemented and leave death as a final destination; a place to go to when all else has failed. courtesy: Ceylon Today