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Delhi Rape Case Sparks Death Penalty Debate in Singapore

The young victim of gang rape in New Delhi, India was brought to Singapore for medical treatment but eventually died on December 28. Many Singaporeans expressed grief and anger over the death of the rape victim who came to be known as Amanat in the world. The tragic death of Amanat in a Singapore hospital also sparked a lively discussion on gender equality, violence against women, and the use of death penalty in rape cases.

Where Bears Roam Free supports the death penalty for heinous crimes like rape:

To anti-death penalty campaigners who think I am too harsh, are you willing to allow these hardcore rapists to walk around again to rape (and possibly kill) more women? If you do, remember that the next victim could be the one you love. Your mother. Your sister. Your wife. Your daughter. And if you are a female, what about yourself?

“Teach Society Don't Rape.” Photo from Flickr of tamara.craiu

But Rachel Zeng believes that death penalty is not the solution:

The death penalty only creates fear and instilling fear is not an effective way to deal with crimes. The society has to understand why they should not violate another human being through violence and sexual crimes, rather than through fear of punishment which is temporary and which will never help to improve women’s standing in society at all.

Oddznns reminds us to look inwards in eliminating hate in society

…we’ll continue to kill until we learn to turn the anger in our hearts into anguish and then to empathy. Until we see that the “other” is also ourself and that when we harm someone else, a part of us, too, dies.

Days after the death of Amanat in Singapore, Shrusti Tripathy and Vanessa Ho organized a candle lighting event in Hong Lim Park to stand up against rape and to promote awareness about the need to combat gender violence. More than 200 people attended the event.

We encourage people to step up and join us to honour the victim and her family, raise awareness for the tragedies that pervade our community and most of all, let's understand this; a victim feels the same regardless of the brutality of the assault, whether they were 6 perpetrators or 1. To the victim, the emotional abuse, the questions and the fear are all the same.

‘I Rise Against Rape Culture’

The organizers informed the crowd that Singapore must do more to promote education about ‘rape culture’ in society:

We would also like to send out the message that this is no time for Singapore to feel self-congratulatory. Rape and sexual assault happens here too, and some claim that the rate of rape in Singapore is higher than in India. Furthermore, our own rape laws are less than satisfactory.

We call for greater education about rape and rape culture. We call for a campaign to end victim blaming and an education that teaches “DON'T RAPE”. We call for a victim-centric rape trial. We call for the sensitisation of police officers, hospital staffs, counsellors and social workers. We call for the recognition of the different types of rape. We call for justice for the victims: the perpetrators need to be severely punished, shamed, and then rehabilitated and educated.

Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh notes that gender inequality is an important issue in Singapore

…although Singapore has over the years made great strides in terms of gender equality, there is still a long way to go.

…when it comes to rape—the most relevant topic in the discussions around Amanat—Singapore is hardly a paragon of virtue. It seems disingenuous for Singapore to beat its own drum now when just a few months ago close to 50 men, including some prominent business and community leaders, were charged with statutory rape of an under aged prostitute.

Amanat will always be in our hearts. Her legacy should serve to remind the world that wherever we are, whoever we are, we must continue the struggle to achieve gender equality in our own societies. Each country, including Singapore, has challenges that need to be addressed.

Last month, a Slutwalk rally was also organized in Singapore to highlight women’s issues, particularly the continuing violence against women in society.

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