Rape: Caning is the better deterrent – Lakshmi Narayan

Lakshmi Narayan“Women [in Singapore] not only wear the skimpiest of outfits in public, but also go to restaurants, nightclubs, bars and movies alone and return home late at night without fear of being attacked. This, I feel, is not just because of stringent laws but greatly because of mindset. The average Chinese and Malay man does not leer at women or pass dirty remarks and, most important, does not undress them with his eyes. Which is exactly what we do in our country — a country espousing Devi Maa, the Mother Goddess!” – Lakshmi Narayan

Rattan cane for sale in SingaporeIt was a Sunday morning, just a couple of weeks after we had relocated to Singapore. I was doing nothing in particular, as I moseyed down Serangoon Road, the Indian quarter. My attention was drawn towards a bunch of girls dressed in their Sunday best.

I did not know then that these smartly-turned-out women were Filipina maids, out having fun on their weekly day off.

Suddenly I heard one of them scream, “He touched my breast.” I turned around to see a swaggering man — obviously Indian — leering at them. The next thing I knew, the girl had caught him by the collar and was shaking him angrily, shouting, “Why did you do that?” Even as he gave some reply full of bravado, another dusky man in what seemed like a deep blue safari suit stepped in. “What’s happening?” he asked gruffly.

Seeing him, the stuffing went out of the first man as he collapsed like a heap of rubbish at the girl’s feet. “Forgive me, sister. I’m sorry. I won’t do it again,” he whimpered. This was when I realised the second man was a police officer. “He touched your breast, eh?” he asked, as he expertly handcuffed the quivering man.

There was ample reason for the man to shiver in fright. In Singapore, forget rape, even a case of molestation draws justice that is swift and merciless. A few strokes of the cane on the rump. This may seem rather mild as far as punishment goes. But it is meant to put the fear of god in the culprit for life. As one recipient described the unbearable pain he felt, “If there’s a word stronger than excruciating, this is it!”

A judicial caning in SingaporeCaning — introduced during the British era and continued to this day — is a legally accepted form of discipline in Singapore. The whole process is gone through meticulously with cold-blooded efficiency. Only a male aged between 18 and 50 is eligible, after he’s been certified fit by a medical officer. Although the maximum number of strokes to be administered at a time cannot exceed 24, I have seldom read of a judge handing down more than six to a molester.

A rattan cane four feet long and half an inch thick is soaked in water beforehand to make it more flexible and effective. And, some say, more agonising. The guilty party is made to strip and secured to a caning trestle. Protective padding is placed on his lower back to shield the spine and kidneys. The caning is always on the posterior because this area has the most fat deposits in the body and will not damage vital organs.

The cane is then brought down with full force on the bare buttocks at 15-second intervals. They say the torment is so intense that many faint. It takes between one week and a month for the wounds to heal, leaving behind indelible white marks that will remind the reprobate to forever look at a woman only as a mother, a sister or a daughter!

Accused Eve-teaser: They murder too!Sad to say, most of the sexual transgressors in Singapore seem to be of Indian origin. When I was working for the Straits Times, I remember one such case at our daily morning meeting that the reporter read out. The miscreant was travelling by bus one morning when he espied a woman — a complete stranger! — from the window. “I saw her and wanted to feel her breasts. So I got off the bus, stood next to her and fondled her,” he admitted nonchalantly. I cannot remember how many strokes of the cane he was administered, but, rest assured, he didn’t have these urges again!

In my book Bonsai Kitten set in Singapore, I have dealt with the plight of the maid Saroja undergoing maltreatment at the hands of her husband Pakkiri. One instance is when he places a hot iron on her private parts and she blacks out. Let me confess here that with all the imagination at my bidding, I could not have conceived of such a sick scenario on my own. It was related to me by my temporary maid with chilling detail. I felt compelled to incorporate it into the story because it is frightening that such savage acts are accepted submissively and unquestioningly by women as their due.

Nearer home, we are all sickened by the mindless carnage being inflicted on women, be it acid throwing by disgruntled wannabe boyfriends, dowry deaths caused by greedy in-laws, or gang-rape. One can safely say that in this country, at least 90 per cent of women have been subjected to sexual abuse of some kind.

My dress is not a yes!Our films actively encourage eve-teasing. Our movies go one step further in enforcing the age-old bias that the woman is “asking for it” either because she wears Western apparel, or because she has told off a man or goes out on her own. I recently saw a runaway Tamil hit where a woman tries to chide a man and she’s told, “Put your finger away. You cannot wag your finger at a man. You are only a woman.” When she gazes angrily at him, he threatens her with, “Look down. Don’t you know a woman is not fit to make eye contact with a man?” How do the censors pass such dangerously degrading rubbish?

As for the votaries of the she-asked-for-it school of thought — which also includes women politicians — I would like to tell them that in Singapore, women not only wear the skimpiest of outfits in public, but also go to restaurants, nightclubs, bars and movies alone and return home late at night without fear of being attacked. This, I feel, is not just because of stringent laws but greatly because of mindset. The average Chinese and Malay man does not leer at women or pass dirty remarks and, most important, does not undress them with his eyes. Which is exactly what we do in our country — a country espousing Devi Maa, the Mother Goddess!

Death for rape!The latest heinous crime to hit the headlines is of the gang-rape victim in Delhi who is fighting for her life. Our collective national psyche is screaming out for castration and hanging as a means to stop this senseless brutality. In India, our men first practise their inhuman sadism at home. Then they’re fully equipped to try their luck with strangers. We are all tired of saying we should sensitise them to women’s issues. But let’s face it. It’s not going to happen for the next 100 years. The rot is too deeply ingrained.

What then is the answer, since civilised society will not allow us to impale rapists, sear acid throwers or incinerate bride burners? The only effective deterrent is something that will make such people swear to themselves they’ll never do it again. Let’s organise fast-track courts in every city first. Then introduce Singapore-style caning for molesters and those who indulge in domestic violence.

Amnesty International has condemned judicial caning as cruel, inhuman and degrading. But do these evildoers deserve to be classified as humans? – The Asian Age, 23 December 2012

» Lakshmi Narayan is the author of Bonsai Kitten. She began her career as a journalist with the Times of India group and was editor of Flair and Eve’s Weekly, before relocating to Singapore. She now lives in Mumbai with her husband Arun and her two dogs, Donna and Tiger. 

10 Responses

  1. Women in most of Europe not only wear the skimpiest of outfits in public, but also go to restaurants, nightclubs, bars and movies alone and return home late at night without a special fear of being attacked. And sure they don’t cane people in Europe.

  2. Not good for caning the rappist because rappist also human

  3. If you care to look on YouTube you will see far more examples of females abusing men than men abusing females. Videos of gangs of girls slapping the faces of passive men who do nothing to retaliate, wives slapping husbands who do not attempt to fight back. Men being thrown off trains and abused by female police officers. We do not know what has provoked such behavior. Some of your TV stations seem to encourage this sort of thing also, as do some Hindi movies. It seems that Indian society in general believes it is somehow okay for a woman to abuse a man. You should also look at all the You Tube videos that depict the sickening abuse and torture of men in custody at the hands of the Indian Police Force which is one of the most corrupt and brutal in the world. Advocating even more sickening brutality against men, as you do, shows a total disregard and lack of understanding for human rights and gender equality. It is no more acceptable for a woman to abuse a man than it is for a man to abuse a woman. When two women recently beat an old man in the street causing him to have a heart attack and die, did you advocate they should be caned and brutalized for their crime? Why should this punishment be reserved exclusively for violent men, are there not plenty of examples of violent and abusive women? I feel your suggestions mask a deep rooted hatred of men and does nothing to promote true social equality. Not all men are violent rapist and they deserve respect not the sort of moronic sexists gibberish some of the feminist commentators on here are guilty of.

  4. Shocking comment from Pavan Kumar! The problem is not feminism but the breakdown of Hindu values. Nothing in Manusmriti or our scriptures sanctions violence against women.

    IS is right. What has happened is the rejection and denial of Dharma.
    If every Indian male is brought up in the right way such atrocities against women would not happen.

    I would argue that there is a case against parents also who bring up children with the wrong values. Hindu society as a whole has degenerated and this is the result. A young medical student who takes a bus ride with a friend is subjected to the utmost horror. And everyday we read of rapes against not only women but children as young as 3 years!

    This happens not only in the lower classes or in villages but amongst the urban well to do. In Vedic times a man who had committed incest had to embrace a molten iron bar until he was scorched to death.

    I recall an incident in my own extended family. An argument took place between a young cousin and his sister. He got up to slap her.

    His Uncle who was present continued to sit in his chair but said firmly: “You can argue all you want with her, but DO NOT LAY A HAND ON HER !”

    The young man sat down.

    • Well said maam. We’ve definitely lost our values which is the root cause of all the evils against women today. The male domination that we see today in India is clearly an aftermath of Islam and Christianity. Even today you can find people in our villages who give the utmost respect even to young girls and also India is probably the only country which has the maximum number of female goddesses on the planet. The degrade in mindset against women is clearly visible in the society.

      I don’t agree at all with the author when she says that strict laws can prevent such crimes. In the West, stricter laws may have been successful in reducing crimes like those that happened in Delhi, but the younger generation there have become completely value-less. The young lads as the author pointed out may not be stripping the street women in their eyes, but they never fail to watch porn at home. The author fails to understand that it is only because that the western folks have an appropriate channel to vent their sexual thirsts (like porn channels, prostitution houses, extramarital or live-in relationships) that they step away from committing crimes in the society and not because they have high respect for women.

      The Hindu society never saw women or men as biological entities. They were viewed as manifestations of masculinity and femininity (shiva & shakthi). This is why each one of them had stricter code of ethics to follow in order to preserve their character. There was strict division of labor among them. Women were discouraged (not forced) from doing any aggressive labor which our ancestors thought could be a hindrance to femininity. Above all femininity was celebrated and worshiped here like nowhere. This is lacking in the society today. Men and women being seen as just laborers today. This attitude will only lead to destruction of femininity in the society and this is exactly what’s happening in the West. India is slowly following the West in this regard. Men and Women are different both biologically and psychologically. There is no need to treat them equally. The western mindset is trying to kill the difference among them and making women ape men in every way possible. If we allow such things to continue we’d end up having all men in the society. What good is Shiva without Shakthi?

      Let’s all learn to celebrate and embrace femininity (motherhood), which is probably the only savior in the world.

  5. this is the biggest problem of india.. someone suggest america oriented solution and someone of russia, here is singapore solution.. this is india n we should find solution through indian view point.. i beleive women have 90% of role in any rape. because of this so called women empowerment, freedom and equality has spoiled indian girls.. this is the route cause of the problem

  6. Change in the law and better police action against offenders can only be a stop gap measure. The real change has to come in the family and the community where boys are taught to respect women from an early age.

    Indian society seems to have lost its moral compass. This is very evident in popular culture, music and cinema, where women are regularly ridiculed and denigrated. If popular culture truly represents the mind of the people as some sociologists claim, then India is in deep trouble and only a social revolution guided by ethical teachers of superior character will bring about the needed change.

    Indian cultural chauvinists are rightly very proud of Hinduism’s fundamentally superior moral and spiritual ethos. But all their claims crumble in front of the outrages against women that have become embedded in Indian society and accepted or brushed off by India’s social and religious leaders.

    Women are the very embodiment of Dharma. They are the first guru of every child. Without a mother, no man would know who his father is. Disrespect and abuse of women is a rejection and denial of Dharma.

    Never mind the law and the police, Indian society has to radically change.

    • I fail to understand the causes of the problem as well as its remedies but one thing I must submit is that while we must not be complacent and must think that the rot is deep, we should also ask self styled authors like this lady who I am more than sure belongs to pink panty group that where has she got her figure of 90 percent women facing sexual abuse. this is outrageous lie and is indicative of her feminazi approach.

      The thing is that in USA , the same chinese and arab men are known for all types of abuses but in china and singapore they are not speaks volumes about fear of punishments.

      Indians have always been not great admirer of women rights and problem is severe but it is also a fact that in my city i have seen women and girls walking with modern clothes at late night.

      I live in varanasi and I have never and yes i repeat this never seen any lewd remark passed which is addressed to the girl.

      I am firm that the problem is in specific quarters like Delhi and Mumbai though I can not ignore the crimes in three tier cities.

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