Public Hangings Are No Solution. A Proper Debate On Sexual Crimes Is Needed
Pakistan’s National Assembly has passed a resolution demanding public hanging of individuals found guilty of child sexual offenders.
As if enough was not enough with the Hudood and Blasphemy laws brutalizing social attitudes and sensibilities the PTI Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan presented the resolution in the parliament, demanding that child sexual offenders should be hanged publicly. It was passed with the support of all parties except the PPP.
Fortunately the Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari has condemned it as did some other members of the National Assembly.
I have heard an audio clip of Minister for Science Fawad Chaudhary in which he has eloquently shed light on the utter uselessness of public hangings and referred to existing scientific literature which abundantly shows that public whipping, stoning and hangings are nothing but perverted types of mass hysteria representing mob mentality and vigilantism. He pleaded for a more informed and enlightened approach in dealing with child sex abuse.
There can be no two opinions about the heinous nature of child sexual offences and those guilty deserve no public sympathy and should be meted out the punishment they deserve.
However, making a spectacle of their offence through public executions is the ultimate debasement of humanity.
Do public hangings ever prevent the repetition of such crimes? The answer has to be an emphatic No. On the other hand, evidence shows that they provide entertainment to people whose feelings and ethical and moral standards are already permeated with pathological disturbances. Instead of being deterred they find some bizarre satisfaction in public hangings.
This I say having for years taught human rights and having read reports on crime and punishment.
The truth is that sodomy is prevalent throughout society and report after report provides ample evidence of the daily rape of young boys by clerics.
In fact bacha bazi is a thriving social practice in many parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
Why I refer to such a repugnant form of rape is because there is a complete silence on such a widespread crime. I think child marriage is also a form of rape and it is good the law has forbidden it but I know that clerics of all Muslim sects consider such prohibition against the Shariah.
In the West forcing sexual intercourse on one’s wife is also a culpable crime.
I think we need a proper, frank and free discussion on sexual crimes which take place in our societies. Many sexual offenders are mentally deranged and need to be isolated from society.
However, public hanging is not deterrent or at least it entertains more than it deters.
The writer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University; Visiting Professor Government College University; and, Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He has written a number of books and won many awards, he can be reached on [email protected]