New Delhi: The capital reported 489 cases of rape last year and the figure for Mumbai was 189. Little surprise then that a court's suggestion of surgical and chemical castration for rapists has found favour with some Indian women. However, there are just as many who feel it will not serve the purpose.
"I fully agree with the judge's view to castrate the rapist rather than sentence him to jail. This would be a great deterrent. Considering the trauma and lifelong humiliation the victim of rape undergoes, even this is a simple punishment," Sonali Karmakar, a housewife from Jogeshwari, Mumbai, told IANS.
Bollywood actress Divya Dutta said: "I think chemical castration should definitely be introduced in India. I totally support it - I strongly feel - rather than sending the rapist to jail and using other punishment."
"It is important to end the problem from the root itself. It would for sure cut down the rape numbers in future if this legal action is undertaken," she said.
But politician Jaya Jaitley said it is an amateur idea.
"I think it is just not acceptable, it is a very amateur way of thinking. It is just like cutting a thief's hands after he is caught. We don't have a right to cause harm to anyone's body. Of course, rape also harms but cutting off body parts would not serve the purpose. A longer duration of jail imprisonment could be the best option," Jaitley told IANS.
"The practice should not come to India. Either we let them off so easily or we talk of cutting their body parts - both are very extreme ways and unacceptable," she added.
The flurry of reactions came after a Rohini court Saturday said the government should explore the possibility of awarding punishment in the form of surgical or chemical castration in rape cases.
Chemical castration is through medication designed to induce a hormone-suppressing drug that would block production of the male hormone in the testes that generates sex drive.
But Pushpa Gupta, a teacher at a school in Greater Noida, said: "Hanging or castration will never work. Ensure better investigation, better prosecution, less harassment of the victim and maximum possible punishment to proved perpetrators. The fine should be drastically increased to compensate the victim."
India is not the first country to give the idea a thought. Chemical castration as punishment for rapists exists in several American states such as California, Florida, Georgia and Texas.
Author Kusum Lata Sawhney points out that one should look at the pros and cons of a punishment.
"Any slight glimmer of hope to bring down rape cases needs to be studied carefully. Some consider chemical castration as a humane alternative to lifelong punishment. Although it is not the ideal solution, studies suggest that it discourages sexual assault better than incarceration (jail sentence) by decreasing the aggressive tendencies," she said.
"If we consider this as a form of punishment, it would seem to be shortlived. Chemical castration is generally considered reversible once the treatment is discontinued although permanent effects in body chemistry can sometimes be seen," she added.
Riddhima Agarwal, who works at the front office of a media house, said while castration could reduce the number of rapes, a better solution would be through better education, better values that teach men to respect women.
"What will happen is that the number of rapes will be reduced - that's it. But the one who is raped lives with a wound on the soul, which can't be healed by castration. The law should be made more stringent for rapists," Agarwal told IANS
"Also, one should go to the root cause like lack of values in individuals. I feel better upbringing and good education can help. Male children should be taught to respect women. So the solution lies in putting their thoughts on the right path when they are young," she added.
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports reveal that in 2010, 489 rape cases were reported in Delhi against 459 in 2009. The number of rape cases reported in Mumbai and Bhopal were 189 and 117. Abduction and molestation of women are also on the increase in Delhi; As many as 1,379 of the total 3,544 cases of abduction took place in the capital in 2010.
New figures given by Delhi Police reveal that a woman is raped every 18 hours or molested every 14 hours in the capital. A staggering 56 percent accused in rape cases are below the age of 25.