In a thought-provoking presentation, Ms. Paramjeet Kaur, an accomplished researcher with an M.Phil. in Sociology, delved into the alarming rise of sexual offenses against women in India. Co-presented by Seema Deswal and backed by empirical findings from Dr. Upneet Lalli, the session provided attendees with both profound insights and critical takeaways.
India, in the last decade, has grappled with an increasing number of sexual offenses against women. While the legal system has evolved since 2013, with an emphasis on deterrence, it’s evident that the punitive approach has its limits. As Paramjeet highlighted, while monetary compensations have been instituted to provide relief to the victims, the enduring trauma they face during trials and beyond remains unaddressed. It’s here that Paramjeet’s research project on ‘Sex Offenders’ offers a fresh perspective on how to potentially address the aftermath of these offenses.
At the heart of her research was a fundamental question: Do sex offenders, once incarcerated, exhibit an understanding of the harm they’ve inflicted? And more importantly, are they willing to make amends?
The findings were revealing. While not all showed remorse, a significant subset, particularly young offenders, displayed a willingness to confront the harm they had caused. This revelation paves the way for an essential discussion on the role of restorative justice (RJ) in cases of sexual violence.
Restorative justice, at its core, emphasizes healing, accountability, and dialogue. By allowing offenders to confront the impact of their actions, it fosters an environment where genuine understanding and reparation can occur. In the context of Paramjeet’s findings, the potential applicability of RJ practices in sexual violence cases offers a promising avenue to reduce harm and enhance accountability.
However, the implementation of RJ in such sensitive cases is not without challenges. Sexual offenses, by nature, are deeply traumatic and personal. The idea of facilitating a dialogue between the victim and the offender requires careful thought, extensive training, and a highly controlled environment. But the potential benefits, as highlighted by the research, are profound. For victims, it could mean a path to closure and healing. For offenders, it can lead to a deeper understanding of their actions, fostering genuine remorse and reducing the likelihood of reoffending.
In addition to her primary findings, Paramjeet also shed light on her prior research project examining the ‘Quality of Life of Women Prisoners’. With expertise spanning culture, gender issues, and human rights, her comprehensive understanding of the subject matter was evident throughout the presentation.
In closing, Paramjeet Kaur’s presentation was both an eye-opener and a clarion call for the Indian justice system. With sexual offenses against women continuing to be a pressing concern, it’s imperative to explore and embrace alternative avenues of justice. By highlighting the potential of restorative justice in addressing the aftermath of such offenses, Paramjeet and her co-presenters underscored the need for a more holistic, compassionate, and effective approach to justice in India.