Will public hanging of one culprit save other kids from the same fate?

BY: Abdul Moiz Malik

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The dead body of 7-years old Zainab was found in a heap of trash. She was molested and then murdered. The incident raged the people. Violent protests erupted in Kasur as it was 12th case of this kind in a year.

This incident ignited the debate on how safe are our kids? What should be done? How can we protect our kids? Amid the intensified emotions, the demand that the culprit of Zainab’s murder case should be hanged publically resonated and many conformed to it. They believed that such harsh display of punishment is rudimentary to deter anyone from even thinking about such a crime in the future.

But the reality is that it is a very erroneous perception that increasing the severity of punishment will result in reduction of crime and there are no substantial numbers or data to back this.

On social media, an image circulated which was said to be of a public hanging of a person Iran who was convicted of child abuse and that the punishment solved Iran’s problem of child abuse. However, this is not true. Iran is one of those countries where there is strict implementation of Sharia laws. They have been using Islamic punishments like hanging and whipping and since the earliest, but, this didn’t halt people from committing such crimes.

According to a report published in NCR Iran news 21% of Iran’s street children face sexual abuse. “According to research conducted in Tehran, 21% of children living on the streets have experienced sexual molestation,” said Ibrahim Ghafari, the head of the social affairs department in the Iranian regime’s Welfare Organization in Tehran Province.

As recently as October 2017, IRAN PUBLICLY HANGS MAN FOR RAPE, MURDER OF SEVEN-YEAR-OLD GIRLThe 42-year-old man, Esmail Jafarzadeh, allegedly confessed to the brutal murder of the girl, Atena Aslani. She was abducted from her house. The case became so high-profile in the country that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani intervened, calling it “horrendous” and demanded that justice be handed to the perpetrator.

The question that arises here is if Iran has long upheld the punishment of public hanging for serious crimes, why do these crimes still occur? Wasn’t it supposed to instill fear in people’s mind?

Another country which we want to imitate is Saudi Arabia. Like Iran, Saudi Arabia has also enacted harshest punishment for crimes, all of which abide by Sharia law. Public executions are common sight in Saudi Arabia. With one of the worst human rights record in the world, Saudi Arabia is globally criticized for these practices, but, still Saudis continue to punish criminals in the stringiest possible ways.  Going by the logic, Saudi Arabia should be crime free by now. Isn’t it? But, it’s not the reality. In2016, The security spokesman of the Ministry of the Interior, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki,  announced that the total number of crimes attended by Saudi police in 2016 reached 149,781. Al-Turki said in a press conference that the criminal offenses involved mainly assaults, thefts, drinking, moral and drug offenses, and many other types of crime.

In 2014, The Ministry of Justice released figures, which indicate that crime rates have increased 102 percent in the Kingdom; up from 10,904 cases in 2012 to 22,113 cases in 2013.

So it turns out that despite putting fear in people by hanging criminals in public, the crime rate in Saudi Arabia has been gradually increasing.

Another example cited by people who want public hanging of the culprit of Zainab’s murder was the reduction of terror related incidents since the inception of military courts. They viewed that this reduction is due the fact that the moratorium on capital punishment is lifted and the military courts have started to hang terrorists.

Only numbers that are available to us do not validate this view.

According to a review “Revival of Military Courts in Pakistan published by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), a total of 274 cases were referred to Military Courts since January 2015. So far, a total of 161 terrorists were awarded death penalty by the Military Courts in two years out of which only 12, i.e. 7% have been administered death penalty. 113 terrorists were awarded imprisonment of varying duration during the period. Out of these convictions, according to media reports, appeals of around 35 militants are pending before the Peshawar High Court. In addition, review petitions of at least 11 of the convicts of military courts against dismissal of their earlier appeals are also pending before the Supreme Court.

How hanging of just 12 terrorists should be credited for the alleviation of terrorism?

This peace is a result of the sacrifices of our brave soldiers and a robust military operation in the tribal areas where terrorists had safe sanctuaries and were operating with impunity. Military courts were only set up to expedite the criminal justice system which because of its flaws, is crippled to convict terrorists in civil courts. These courts were more sort of a stop-gapeasure in the aftermath of APS catastrophe. However military courts are a short-term measure and what imperative is the reform in justice system. Without that done, not much can be achieved by such quick-fix measures.

So, public hanging in one case is not a solution.

General Zia ul Haq initiated this practice of publicly punishing the criminals. In his era, a number of people were hanged, lashed and beaten in public, if it’d have been effective, the generation that saw them, should have  abhorred such crimes, if not generation, then for atleast for 10 years, no cases of murder, theft or rape should have been reported. But, it didn’t happen. It wasn’t a strong enough deterrence.

Child abuse is a scourge. One who commits this barbaric crime should be dealt without a modicum of compassion and should be given exemplary punishment. But, there should be an even system where every case is dealt equally and the perpetrators face the same wrath. Not just because one case caused a clamour, we should hang the person involved and don’t pay heed to other cases. When we demand for convict in one case to be hanged, our desire may be to ensure that justice is done, but what we actually achieve is to convey that some victims deserve a greater shot at justice than others do — and also that some people

According to Sahil, the total number of Child sexual abuse (CSA) cases including in 2016, stand at a staggering 4139 cases of Child sexual abuse (CSA) cases were reported. It included abduction, missing children and child marriage. The number of children abused per day stood at 11.

This figure also shows an increase of 10% from the previous year. A total of 100 victims were murdered after sexual assaults. But, how many of these cases made it to public discourse? Only a handful of them. It won’t do any good if victims continue to remain silent. What is needed to be done is that we should shun our silence that follows these acts because we’re more concerned about the prestige of our ménage. These ogres should be named, shamed and punished without any pity.

Victims should not feel ashamed, instead they should rise and make sure what happened with them shouldn’t happen with anyone else. There should be a justice system capable of making sure that no culprits evade punishments and the criminal investigation system should accumulate enough evidence so that convict should face the worst possible fate.

Every incident provides us a chance to reform our system, but, we resort to cursory measure to calm the emotions. APS attack should have resulted in detailed judicial reform, but, we made military courts. When cases of child abuse keep recurring, we demand public hanging instead of using modern investigative measure.

Public execution of one culprit isn’t needed. What needed to be publicly executed are our masculinity, patriarchy and predilection for boys. As someone rightly said ‘Certainty of punishment is more important than severity of punishment.’

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