Saturday, May 31

3 Legal Systems and child rape

This was fascinating to discuss. The barebones of the argument are clear, it is a case of child rape and the fellow is sentenced to death. Incidentally, if it was up to me, I would bring back pre-historic punishments for child rape such as tearing apart limb by limb or boiling alive for these child rapists till they are near death but not quite dead yet. I am a firm anti death penalty man, but that doesn't mean that some nice chaps cannot be taken to a situation where they would wish they had crossed the boundary and seen the white light. But unfortunately, since it is not up to me, I have to leave emotion aside and think about some interesting comparisons.

Here we have 3 legal situations and I am just talking about child rape right now, ceteris paribus. First legal system (the domestic US Legal system) is what is currently in play, that the death penalty is only given for murder but the consensus which seems to be brewing is that the death penalty is fine for child rape.

The second legal system, which relates to international (read European and British) law, relates to the fact that the death penalty should not be extended to crimes which it did not cover. I quote:

International authorities have long agreed that nations that retain the death penalty must refrain from expanding the death penalty to crimes to which it currenlty does not apply--a principle that has been codified in a regional convention and reaffirmed by the jurisprudence of human rights bodies. There is an equally strong global consensus that nations should gradually narrow the categories of offenses for which the death penalty may be imposed.

Both are discussed here. But further to this, consider the legal situations relating to this in the Sunni schools of law (see here for example) . Punishment of rape (forget about child rape) is death but it is not "mandatory". In other words, it is up to the judge to evaluate if capital punishment is allowed. But bear in mind, this is slowly changing as well and this entire gamut of rape is being slowly modified. See here for example. While this story concentrates on the women side and not on the punishment side, it still bears quoting:

Under the Hudood ordinance, rape is included in matters covered under Islamic law, like marriage and divorce. A woman who reports that she has been raped must produce four male witnesses to prove it. If she fails to do so, she can be prosecuted for adultery. Thousands of women have been punished under the law, often on the flimsiest evidence. That risk has kept many women from trying to bring their attackers to justice.

The legislation passed Wednesday will move rape cases to criminal courts rather than Islamic courts. The new legislation allows forensic and circumstantial evidence to be used as a basis for convictions, as with other crimes.

Now the question is, if you move to the secular (chuckle) criminal court, what does that do for punishments? Do they follow model 2 and let the child rapist escape capital punishment? Or do they follow model 1 and leave the Islamic punishment of capital punishment in? So many questions. If this happens, then women will lose out (4 witness issues, women punished...) but on the other hand, the child rapists will escape capital punishment.

Three legal systems, 3 situations, 3 rapists and 3 victims. Justice is served where? how? for whom?

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