Will Public Hangings Of Rapists End Sexual Crimes?
In the wake of the gang rape of a woman on the motorway, the demand for the public hanging of rapists has once again stirred a debate in the national mainstream and social media.
Over the 7 days, at least three cases were reported in the mainstream media: rape and murder of a five-year-old in Karachi, gang-rape of a woman on the motorway, and rape of a seven-year-old in Rawalpindi, resulting in public outrage that called for public hangings to curb rapes.
According to people who propagate capital punishment to deter sexual assaults in Pakistan, this was the only solution to curb sexual violence in society. These people have urged the prime minister to hang the rapists publically so that no one would dare to take advantage of a woman again.
— Rabia Khan (@RabooKhan753) September 10, 2020
They have also invoked public hangings that took place during the regime of military dictator General Ziaul Haq that allegedly led to a decline in the crime rate. While some of them argued sharia-compliant punishments for rapists i.e. stoning.
Please Government!! Do nothing, just hang the rapists, it will be enough for us. We are ready to comprise anything. We want nothing from you, just make the laws harsh and harsh for rapists. We can’t compromise on this. NEVER
#HangRapistsPublically #NoMercyForRapists pic.twitter.com/Vn2ZV9hfG7
— ALEEZ✨✨ (@Aleez001) September 11, 2020
Politicians and public hangings:
Conservative politicians and the religiopolitical parties often amplify the demand for the public hanging of rapists in a bid to cash in on the popularity. Ironically, these parties also oppose bringing debates on these issues into the national mainstream.
In Feb, PTI lawmaker moved a resolution in the National Assembly, seeking the hanging of convicts in public. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan presented the resolution and it was approved by all lawmakers, except the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
Later on, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari and Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chauhdry also condemned the resolution, calling it an uncivilised practice.
Moreso, the demand for public hangings has always been resisted by the progressive quarters who term this practice ‘barbaric act’. Amnesty International official Omer Warriach opposed the resolution seeking public hanging of rapists.
Waraich said: “The sexual abuse and murder of children are among the most horrific crimes, but the death penalty is not a solution. Public hangings are acts of unconscionable cruelty and have no place in a rights-respecting society.”
The former attorney general and senior lawyer Ashtar Ausaf had told Arab News earlier this year that there was no empirical evidence that public hanging was a deterrent to the crime. “It is a sensitive matter and our lawmakers should discuss it thoroughly before legislating on it,” he had said.
Sex education and reformed criminal system:
Experts have stressed that a better way to deter such crimes would be to teach children sex education and initiate a debate in society over sexual violence. They further said that the rampant misogyny that often translates into acts of violence against women needs to be addressed as well.
Moreover, they say that instead of empty rhetoric or paying heed to calls for public hanging that are high on rhetoric, the state should legislate to effectively prosecute suspects involved in sexual violence.