That’s the crucial question to ask in the context of mounting public rage against a pandemic of rape and bestial sexual assaults on women, including female children and infants, which is sweeping the country.
Rape and other forms of gender violence have become so routine that they are reported in the media in the same matter-of-fact way as the daily weather.
The so-called Nirbhaya fund set up after the horrifying fatal assault on a young physiotherapist in Delhi on December 16, 2012, to provide better policing and surveillance systems to protect women remains largely underutilised, symptomatic of what is increasingly seen as lack of political will to check such crimes.
The result has been that an increasing number of otherwise law-abiding citizens have begun to endorse extra-legal action against sexual predators, and even those alleged to be so.
The `encounter’ in which four suspected rapists were shot down by the Hyderabad police has been applauded by many, even as it has appalled those who decry mob justice in any form.
Now, as the anniversary of the Nirbhaya gang rape draws near, and four of those convicted of the crime await execution in Tihar jail, the prison authorities have reportedly received some 15 letters from people – including a chartered accountant and a lawyer, and from many parts of the country – offering to carry out the hangman’s task.
These fellow citizens of ours have responding to the question “Would you kill a rapist?” with an emphatic “Yes!”
This supports the contention that heinous crimes like rape have a ripple effect on society by unleashing a backlash of violence against the perpetrators, resulting in an escalating brutalisation of the community.
It is said that constant vigilance is the price we have to pay for democracy.
Are we approaching a state where constant vigilantism is the price we’ll pay for a mobocracy?
Which brings us back to the question: If it came to it, would you kill a rapist?
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.