Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: Education

Murderers are not victims

Last year during riots in London and other cities of England, many young boys committed crimes. Prime Minister David Cameron said the young boys will face full force of the law. If you are old enough to commit a crime you are old enough to face the law.

On 9/2/2012 a student murdered his Science and Hindi teacher Uma Maheshwari, St. Mary’s Ango-Indian Higher Secondary School, Armenian Street, Madras. He was angry with the teacher for informing his parents about his behaviour and lack of study by her remarks on his school diary.

Murder is a crime. In India nobody has been hanged for murder for many years. Death penalty is given in rarest of rare cases. Even when the president rejects a mercy petition it is challenged in a court and the case drags on. The message goes out that you will not be hanged if you murder.

It is strange that some people talk of the student as a victim. Murderers are not victims. Someone said he was victim of a dysfunctional family. What that means is spoilt brats of rich families can do whatever they want, even murder, and they will have sympathy.

One report said the boy was inspired by Agneepath, starring Hritik Roshan and Sanjay Dutt. The film is not about a student killing his teacher. Many films glorify crime and criminals. In India many people raise a hue and cry about scenes containing sex and nudity but are quiet about scenes with violence. Watching a film is not a justification for murder or any crime.

The boy being a minor may not have even life imprisonment which in reality means 14 years. Minors who commit adult crimes like murder should face punishment meant for adults.

Definition of rape

Rape is forced sex with a female by a male. Sex means vaginal intercourse which means penetration of vagina by the penis. Any other definition that includes other sex crimes under rape dilutes the gravity of rape.

Some countries have broadened the definition of rape to include various sex crimes. In India there is a demand to change the definition of rape to include all sex crimes. That should be avoided. Vaginal intercourse is different from anal or oral intercourse. In vaginal intercourse a female can become pregnant. That does not happen in anal or oral intercourse. Penetration of vagina by any object other than penis is an unnatural sex crime.

Some want to make rape gender-neutral. This is ridiculous. There are biological and physiological differences between men and women. No female can rape a male. Equality of sexes does not mean identity.

Punishment for other sex crimes can be same as punishment for rape.

Sex with a person with consent below the age of consent should be termed sex with minor and not statutory rape. In India age of consent for unmarried women is 16 and for married women to sex with their husbands is 16. That is because till about 1978 legal marriage age for men was 18 and for women 15. It was changed to 21 for men and 18 for women. However there was no change in the age of consent for married and unmarried women in Indian Penal Code. It is illegal to marry a woman who is below 18 but not illegal to have sex with her if she is 15.

Sex by deceit should be a separate crime. If a man promises marriage to a woman she does not have to sleep with him till they marry. She can tell him to wait till they marry. If the woman sleeps with him and the man does not keep his promise to marry it should be criminal breach of promise to marry. If the woman becomes pregnant and keeps the child the man must pay for the child’s upkeep. That is separate from imprisonment for criminal breach of promise to marry.

If a man hides his marital status and marries a woman and has sex with her it is sex by deceit.

If a woman sleeps with a man for a role in a film or TV serial and does not get it is barter gone wrong. Punishment for not keeping the barter, role for sex, can be same as punishment for rape.

If a woman has oral sex with an unconscious man it should crime of oral sex without consent, not rape.

Some say rape is not about sex but about power. But to show power a man need not rape a woman. He can slap her, kick her or beat her. Rape is about sex and may be about power. It is not an either or situation.

Decline in education

Programme for International Standard Assessment (PISA) ratings and Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2011 have shown fall in educational standards in many Indian schools. Standard V students are unable to read Standard II books. Similar is the fall in standard in arithmetics. Mostly it is the case of government schools in rural areas. Much has been made of mid-day meal scheme in schools and it is said that the scheme has ensured almost 100% attendance. It is no use if students have mid-day meals but do not gain knowledge.

Foolish policies followed by people in power are responsible for this situation. After the government banned detaining students who fail after the annual exam and made promotion to next standard upto Standard VIII obligatory there was decline in educational standards. Teachers lost interest in teaching. Students lost interest in studying. It is just a matter of three years before Standard VIII students are unable to read Standard II books. Some may not be able to read anything at all.

At one time there were public exams for Std IV or Std VII. Generations of students had gone through them. They were helpful in knowing standards of various schools and teachers taught and students studied. With abolition of exams came laxity in teaching. However there were annual exams conducted by schools. They maintained some standard. With their abolition it was downhill. In many schools there is absenteeism of teachers. In such schools if some students are able to read, write and do well in maths according to the class in which they study it may be due to their parents teaching at home.

Annual exams for all Standards and public exams for Std IV or Std VII should be brought back. There is need to detain students who do not qualify to go to next Standard. Without annual exams it becomes progressively more difficult for students. After spending years in schools they may be good for nothing. Admission for colleges in many cities is tough. For some colleges the cut-off percentage is 100%. Without annual exams students will not able to do well in Std X and consequently in higher education.

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