We Indians are an angry people now. Thousands of people have poured into the streets, indignant and outraged over the savage case of rape and assault on a young woman in New Delhi.
That anger degenerated this week into hysteria and bloodlust, with calls for capital punishment and castration of the rapists. The Internet was flooded with comments urging public hanging and beatings. One response on an Internet forum suggested that Delhi men be raped so that “the problem can be solved”; another advocated the rapists be urinated upon.
If there was ever a proud moment to be an Indian, this isn’t it.
There are some who want stricter punishment in such cases, but clearly, as many experts say, it is the certainty of punishment rather than the severity that matters. Sexual assault cases on women in India increased by 25 percent in the six years to 2011, and lawyers believe much of this can be attributed to the low rate of conviction in such cases.
The only time I remember when rape has made national headlines and generated an outpouring of anger was when the victim was someone like us — middle class, educated and urban — such as the cases of the medical student in 2003, or the call centre worker a few years ago.