Don’t you think we should have a sex offenders’ registry of some sort?

What is the purpose of justice? Solace to the victim? A warning to potential criminals and prevention (or perhaps control) of crime and injustice?
How is justice served in this verdict? I share n’s concerns.

n asked in a comment,

IHM, in the light of the ‘juvenile’ rapist being let off [link 1, link 2] despite being convicted, don’t you think we should have a sex offenders registry of some sort so that we can protect our children and ourselves from monsters like him, rather than keeping his face covered?

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How Indian women feel when they are being subjected to sexual crimes. How Patriarchy sees sexual crimes.

The rapists often don’t see their actions as crimes, the police said, and don’t expect the victims to report them.

Girl gang-raped in moving bus in Delhi

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31 thoughts on “Don’t you think we should have a sex offenders’ registry of some sort?

  1. While I do think a sex offender registry, a child molester registry, and even a violent criminal registry would do any society well, how would one even begin to enforce this in India? In Canada, my entire identity as a person is in my SIN no, in the US it’s Social Security no, I’m sure European countries have their own version of the same. A pan card or even a voter’s ID or ration card is just not the same.

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    • Agree Kay. But at least his face can be uncovered and picture published so that there is some hope that he is recognised? The way it is now, he can go anywhere and be a free citizen, and hey where is the guarantee that the horrors he committed will not be repeated?

      Also ration cards/etc at least since we don’t have Social Security no.s?

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      • I definitely agree that having his pictures circulated (via the newspapers maybe?) would be an effective way of making people aware that this is a potentially violent offender, but I don’t know how effective it would be.

        My driving instructor thought that these people should have visible tattoos of their crimes, but I thought that would lead down the slippery slope of inhuman and unusually cruel punishments. (Her logic was that if you commit inhuman crimes, you should be treated inhumanly was something I don’t believe and cannot condone).

        I keep thinking of the fictional but very intriguing scene in the White Tiger (book by Aravind Adiga) where the protagonist finds a poster of himself in some shop and someone looks at it and tells the protagonist that the poster resembles him (as in himself, not the protagonist). That’s when the protagonist realizes that he’s not going to get caught because there are millions of people who look like him.

        In a country with 1.2 billion people, millions of people have the same names and possibly similar features, you can’t rely on pictures alone, there needs to be a computerized system of identification (and even that may not be accurate due to the sheer number of people). But ration cards and pan cards can be seen as a start, I suppose.

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        • Agree Kay, but hey maybe the fear of being identified will act as a deterrent to repeating the crime? Basically trying to clutch at the few straws I can see..

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  2. If were the judge, I’d either recommend a death sentence or sentence this gang rapist-murderer to life in prison, no parole. It is ludicrous that there’s no middle ground between hanging and three years for tetanus gang raping someone to death. And that, in my opinion, would be the compassionate thing to do, because I’m sure someone somewhere is working to figure out his identity and have him killed. Painfully. Do the authorities plan to give him an armed guard for the rest of his life?

    I wouldn’t be be surprised if in this thing’s sealed records, there were other such crimes excused due to his age.

    Juvenile court is based on the idea that kids can be rehabilitated. I don’t think this person can be.

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  3. This was my biggest concern on reading about the verdict too. It’s not about revenge, though I can understand what the victim’s family must have gone through and will expect.
    But how does Indian society reconcile with the fact that in three years someone who is potentially a psychopath is going to be loose again. Even if he is freed at some point he needs to be on some sort of parole where he is constantly monitored. There should also be strict rules for e.g. that he should not be in any contact with children. The bus they used was a school bus during day time. That thought just sends shivers down my spine.
    As Kay pointed out a registry is not going to work and that again pushes the onus on common folk to educate themselves and check the registry to know if their neighbours are on it. If he disappears into a slum and only targets people there how are they even supposed to know of the existence of such a registry and protect themselves.

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  4. Three years from now, the “Juvenile” will be back on the streets… the same guy who murdered the victim through some ghastly means.. he might be roaming near schools, play areas… one shudders

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  5. I can’t remember if Canada has a sex offender registry list. It wouldn’t be hard to find out..via the Canadian court system.

    Like many people, it has been shocking to read of the gang rapes in India in past 12 months. A sex offender registry list is only a tiny mechanism. A much bigger effort is changing attitudes in society en masse towards girls and women..that they are dispensable and that men/boys shouldn’t feel threatened if women become educated, start having decent jobs and contribute to the household budget. It lessens pressures on guys as sole breadwinners.

    AND IN THE WEST, it solves a lot of problems with family incomes, when a guy suddenly gets unemployed. It is a reality over and over. So every guy should wake up…on this one.

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    • I don’t understand this comment at all–I certainly hope you don’t mean that men who feel ‘less pressured’ don’t go about raping and killing women in horrendous ways so therefore women should seek equal education and employment opportunities.

      In Canada, it depends,. I definitely remember when the balcony rapist was released and he went to stay with his sister in Surrey, BC, that there was a massive uproar about it. Info on violent offenders who are rated as likely to offend again will be made public.

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  6. A registry will help, even if only a few people check it. Yes we should protect juveniles but IMO what this guy did is not a juvenile forgivable crime, he should have been tried as an adult, or at the very least his identity made known so people could be diligent and informed.
    Yes one can argue that his life will not be the same if his identity is known, but the crime was so ghastly he lost his right to juvenile protection.
    3yrs and secure identity after that is a travesty.

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  7. Thoroughly disappointed with the verdict. And I do not understand the logic of the human rights activists. He should be given a chance to reform? Will he reform considering his brutal mind set and he may be released early if he shows good behaviour while in jail. I give up!!!! He was termed as the most brutal of the 6 attackers. He should have been given death sentence. He does not deserve any kind of sympathy. I am not sure if we can have a registry of such offenders in India. Even if we do, I doubt the authenticity of it. At least they can show his face to the public. I cannot imagine that he will roam free after 3 yrs.

    My heart goes out for the parents and brothers of Nirbhaya.

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  8. Three years in rehabilitation for such a gruesome crime is not justice. 18 is not a magical number. In my opinion this juvenile law does not make sense and probably has been formulated with little thought to various situations it may have to deal with.

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  9. He is 16, she was 23. His crime gang rape (and murder, yes murder!), her’s – wrong place, wrong time. If he hadn’t met her that day, he would have raped and killed someone else, she might have saved someone’s life. He will get rehabilitated in 3 yrs, she will still be dead. In 3 years, he will be 19, she will still be dead! He may or may not ‘grow up’, he may or may not rape again. She will still be dead. Does he deserve a chance? The better question is, wil she get a chance? NO! The answer is NO to both questions!

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  10. I absolutely believe in a sex offender registry. They have one in the US where you can see all the pictures, crimes, address etc – at least you know who they are and where they live.
    In Canada it is not public like that, but the press takes pictures of many of the pedophiles/rapists as they leave the courthouse.
    My main concern when I saw that the juvenile in the Delhi rape case was sentenced was that they still covered his face. I’d like to know who that monster is. People can always change their names, but a face you will never forget. The verdict was such a joke – only 3 years? Insane. The punishment needs to fit the crime.
    At least uncover their faces so we can see who these monsters are…
    And just today I read that a serial rapist escaped from the prison in B’lore…they should release his picture too!

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  11. I am no lawyer but I believe a major factor in juvenile laws everywhere is that a juvenile may get influenced and/or pressurised by adult offenders to commit a crime,but in the complex gamut of sexual offences some percentage of perversion and tendency for violence is so inherent that having a database of all sexual offenders of all age groups might be a preventive measure. Then again considering the efficacy of Indian systems,Isn’t there a need to combine the creation of new systems with ensuring the proper working of old systems already in place.

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  12. I guess I’m in the minority, but I feel that if we believe in the rule of law, then juvenile offenders are treated differently (in many countries) not because they commit petty crimes but because they are young, might have been unduly influenced by others, have the potential to reform. So I don’t understand why we want an exception made in this case. If we really don’t agree with the characterization of juvenile offenders then why not start a campaign to repeal the law…but thinking that the courts will cave to public opinion and go against the law itself doesn’t seem right to me.

    I feel a sex offenders registry is pertinent in the case of pedophiles. For adults, why would we particularly want to know about sex offenses versus other serious crimes.

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    • I certainly want to know if a criminal is specifically a sex offender , especially if he is moving into my neighborhood, irrespective of if he is a pedophile or not.

      In many countries juvenile offenders especially so close to 18yrs are first based on the crime debated if they should be tried as adults. There is a diff between a juvenile breaking and stealing from a store and this case. Most countries with juvenile laws will have debated and tried this criminal as an adult. There are cases where this has happened. Gang mentality and adult pressure cannot justify this crime. Again it’s lay my opinion. But I believe this guy showd have been tried as an adult.

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      • @shallotandginger The line between adulthood and not is an arbitrary one and so there are bound to be cases that fall into the grey. Also, the question of whether prison is supposed to be punitive or rehabilitative. The modern judicial system focuses on rehabilitation, though how much rehabilitation takes place in a prison is up for question. In time terms, how much time does a young person/first-time offender albeit of a serious crime need to spend incarcerated to be “rehabilitated” is up for analysis. Does longer mean better? From a punitive point of view, yes. But I’m not sure from a rehabilitation point of view.

        @Radha The Stubenville rape case comes to mind, in which the defendents were tried as juveniles. I don’t see how there can be a debate on a case by case basis, unless allowance for debate is written into the law itself beforehand, which it is not in our country.

        Why would you want to know of a sex offender specifically versus say someone who committed murder?

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        • In the US, where i visit of and on , i’d say there are cases in case of murder or loss of life where juveniles are tried and sentences as adults, maybe not in the stubenville case but in plenty others. I agree its not a law in our country but we amend our constitution so much, this could be debated and if people want it amended. It’s not set in stone, it can evolve to meet the requirements of today.

          sex offenders registry, i understand that the reason for the registry is because sex offenders are statistically more likely to reoffend. again in the US Anybody who has been convicted of a felony is “publically searchable”. All criminal convictions are matters of public record and can easily be looked up online. That not being the case in india, i’d like at least to start somewhere,
          yes i care about murderers too, so they can have a separate list for that, but we have to start somewhere , i thnk sex offenders registry is a good start.

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      • @Radha I agree it’s not set in stone. I guess I just find it naive how only when something dramatic happens, our stance on this gets clarified and everyone starts clamouring for change now now now and then gets very foot-stampy that the judicial system is not obliging with alacrity.

        @Nish Maybe. Somehow trying a 13-year-old as an adult with all the harshness of adult sentencing even in serious crimes doesn’t sit right with me.

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  13. I do believe that having a sex offenders registry will definitely help in preventing further crimes. Especially if that registry is used to check against when recruiting people where they could impact vulnerable people. Like children for instance. If a person has been convicted for sexual crime against a child,for instance and he were trying for a job in a school, in any capacity, wouldn’t it be better to give it to someone else? Surely that will help make things a little bit safer?

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    • If a person committed a sex crime against a child he should be prohibited all access to children . If he feels that’s unfair then here’s a simple plan … “Don’t commit crimes again children” .. Then you get to work with them.. Simple. Most job applications in the US ask if you have a record. Rehabilitate criminals by all means but for gods sake don’t put those who are vulnerable back in the hands of the fellows again — rehabilated or not.

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  14. That always brings out the question that I always ask “why is the offender’s face always covered?” If there is something like “till proven guilty” this boy (boy?) has been already proven guilty and the punishment has been meted out. Still his face is covered. Why?

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  15. A sex offender’s registry would work, in theory. But in a country like India? With our massive population, and massive number of criminals? Also, the people who are most at risk, women and children in rural areas–is there any provision for them to easily access this registry? And even if they do, is there any possible way for them to protect themselves and move away from an area like that? What if sex offenders are perfectly registered, but still protected by their potentially powerful families?

    This incident proves that it’s difficult enough to get the legal system to work in India on a sunny day. I can’t see something like a registry working. The only way it might be functional is if it were state implemented and not federally implemented.

    Also, the verdict is infuriating. But nothing new. It would be a waste of words to talk about how sad it is.

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  16. Pingback: So how will banning cabs make public transport safer for women? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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