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The Author Gives Which of the Following Suggestions to the Concerned Ministry? - Legal Reasoning

Question

MCQ

Direction: The passage given below is followed by a set of question. Choose the most appropriate answer to each question.

On May 14, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to select a private agency for creating a National Database of Sexual Offenders for India. The said RFP states that the purpose of establishing the database of sex offenders is to help in the early detection and prevention of crime against women, arrests of persons accused of criminal offences and to keep a watch on habitual offenders. Media reports suggest that the public will have access to the details regarding convicted sex offenders and law enforcement officials will have access to data about persons on trial for sexual offences. This registry seems to be one more knee-jerk and populist reaction to the problem of sexual violence against women and children in India.

The ministry seems to have launched this initiative without analysing the evidence on the limited efficacy of such registries in other jurisdictions in reducing rates of repeat offending and without examining its appropriateness in the Indian context. Various states in the US have had such publicly accessible registries for around 28 years and multiple studies have shown that they have limited public safety benefits and significant social costs. Sex offender registries are predicated on the assumption that convicted sex offenders have a high likelihood of committing offences after serving their sentences. This assumption is not borne out by data. In India, the percentage of recidivism among arrested persons according to data collected by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2016 is only 6.4%.

The registry is being proposed in response to widely-reported horrific incidents of rape. The logic seems to be that if the police have a list of offenders living in the area, investigation becomes simpler and people, especially parents, can be more vigilant if they are aware of offenders living around them. However in India, as per the NCRB data for 2016, in 94.6% of reported cases of rape against women and children, the perpetrator is known to the victim. Such a registry offers little protection from such offenders. In fact, the fear of the offender being included in the registry may exacerbate the problem of underreporting by making people apprehensive about reporting sexual violence involving family members and acquaintances.

Once the general public has unfettered access to data about sex offenders online, it can open a Pandora's Box. The fears of offenders being ostracised and vilified become very real. Among a host of foreseeable problems, they will find it particularly tough to find employment or housing. India has already witnessed cases of lynchings of people suspected to be child kidnappers. It is not paranoid to expect the public reaction to convicted offenders to be much worse. Once offenders are pushed into the margins, their access to treatment, supervision and support systems becomes diminished, which may be quite counterproductive. If the state imposes restrictions on where such offenders can live, the housing crisis they will face will be exacerbated. They may become homeless or be compelled to live in areas far from home where they may face less scrutiny. The stigma and ostracisation that such offenders will face will invariably extend to their families. Studies in the US have shown that a combination of social ostracisation, lack of psychiatric support and the inability to find a job or housing, can even increase chances of recidivism; thus, defeating the very purpose of the registry. In such circumstances, registration in such a database can turn into a 'scarlet letter' like badge of shame that can punish offenders much beyond their sentences and make their rehabilitation and reintegration into society next to impossible.

As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data from 2015-2016, we know that 85% of cases of sexual violence against women, which excludes cases of marital rape and assault, go unreported. Such a registry does not begin to address this problem.

Before implementing this registry, the Ministry of Home Affairs must create a research base on recidivism among sex offenders and the risk factors and hold a much broader public debate on the need for the registry. This is not to say that sexual offences are not an urgent problem. In the Indian context, the focus needs to be shifted to tackling barriers to reporting, training law enforcement officials and providing support to survivors rather than this ill-conceived registry.

The author gives which of the following suggestions to the concerned ministry?

Options

  • To create a database for answering queries of the Amnesty international

  • To not make such a database of sex offenders public

  • To do a proper risk analysis of making such a database public

  • To not compile a list of repeat offenders

Solution

To do a proper risk analysis of making such a database public

Explanation:

Refer to the line, "Before implementing this registry, the Ministry of Home Affairs must create a research base on recidivism among sex offenders and the risk factors and hold a much broader public debate on the need for the registry." Hence, to do a proper risk analysis of making such a database public is the correct answer. The author doesn't suggest that such a database should not be made public at all.

Concept: Indian Penal Code (Entrance Exams)
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