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If Death Does Not Prevent Rapes And Castration Is Inhuman, Can You Tell Me What Punishment Will Work?

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Death sentence has been awarded to the four convicts responsible for the rape and murder of a young girl in Delhi last December whereas fifth perpetrator- the juvenile has to spend three years in a correctional facility. The sixth offender had hanged himself earlier this year.

Death row prisoners take up more of the taxpayers’ money than the life sentence cases, but as death penalty is awarded only in the “rarest of the rare” circumstances, they form a very small percentage of the total number of cases. Also, due to fast-tracking the cases, sentence is awarded in a matter of months and not years.


There is also a question of guilt of the convicts but forensic evidence proved beyond doubt that these men were at the scene of the crime. Here, the bite-marks, the blood-stained rod, CCTV recordings, mobile phone records were some of the damning evidences against them. I personally do not doubt their guilt. However, even if there is a small margin of error, they can appeal, even apply for President’s mercy.

Death penalty is inhumane but what about the inhumane acts these people performed on those two victims? They were left naked and semi-conscious in biting cold on the side of a street, not to add that the girl also had her intestines pulled out of her body. What kind of a deplorable human being does that? These 6 people had petty charges against them. They had robbed a daily labourer on that very bus. They were not small children who did not know the difference between right and wrong; they just thought that since only about 24% of rape victims ever get justice, they could be in the rest 76%, and that they could get away with it. The intent to commit crime was there.

One thing to be noted here is that they were not sentenced to death for the rape, but the murder. The victim died 13 days after her ordeal in a hospital in Singapore. She had been so battered that had she survived, she would never have lived a normal life.

No, I am not condoning the jubilation at their subsequent death that some people seem to be showing, I am not even condoning the death chants that seem to have been making rounds before their conviction. Media should not have sensationalised this case or any case for that matter. But as a citizen of India, I feel that there are no short term fixes to stop crimes against women. If death is not a deterrent, castration is inhuman; then what kind of punishment will stop it? Education, moral or otherwise, gender sensitisation are all long term solutions, however permanent. The studies that claim that death is not a preventive measure for rape, can they tell me what is? I haven’t really read those researches so I do not know what they really say but I am a “common man” and I am sick of reading about rape cases every day in the newspaper. One sip of tea, one rape/murder case. Somewhere an 80-year-old is robbed and raped, the other place a 15-year-old is raped and killed. So if death penalty is not enough to instil fear, tell me a viable solution and I will accept it, till then do hold your peace and let me have some solace in my own opinions.

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  1. Jaai

    First you say there are not “short term fixes” and then you reject all other fixes for being “long term, however permanent”. So do you want a short term fix or a long term one? Most importantly, do you want a fix at all, or do you want revenge/punishment/retribution? “I haven’t read the researches” is again shirking responsibility. Perhaps those reports actually answer your questions, and maybe you should give them a chance?

    The idea is not to find something worse than death or castration; the idea is that tit-for-tat is not justice and however satisfied it makes us to kill someone for a crime, it deters no one. More often than not, deterrence is just a rationalization for the real reason why we would allow the state to kill someone, anyone: bloodlust. I am happy you agree that the celebrations of the death sentence are not tasteful at all.

    There are dangerous implications of allowing the state to take someone’s life. The right to life is the most fundamental right all humans have and even if you deny that right to someone else (as the rapists did with the victim), how does a third person, much less an abstract entity like the state, have the right to take your life away?

    You seem to accept the death penalty because it seems like the “least bad” option, but please realise that even the least bad option here is death, irreversible.

    Further, as Sengupta points out in this article, on some level the people who accept the punishment of death for those who cross a line are not very different from the people who think rape is a great punishment for women who cross a patriarchal line. (

    Then there is the framing of the rapists as monsters, inhuman “others”, because which normal man would do such a thing? The truth is, these people are normal. They have not landed from space — our society created them. There’s a reason they are the way they are. Sure, they’re not kids, but did you know that most kids who are sexually abused as children tend to become sexual abusers themselves? Perhaps we can, as a society, try to hate the crime and not the criminal. Similarly, I am not doubting that rape is bad; I am merely doubting that rapists are “bad” people, in the way we tend to paint everyone as black and white where we are usually white.

    Maybe we could begin to look at prison as a method of containment, a crude but effective way of keeping these people from committing more crimes. Maybe the bigger problem is how their lawyer claimed he would burn his daughter for having a boyfriend. Or how we cannot respect a woman just because she is a woman but have to talk about how she is someone’s daughter or wife or sister. Why should we as taxpayers pay for their prison sentence? It’s because they’re part of our society; they grew up here, learnt this behaviour here. Killing them off is like shutting our own eyes and imagining the problem has disappeared.

  2. adit1711

    Your mistake is in assuming everything can be solved in the short term. Crime is not going to go down overnight. In Victorian England, pickpockets were hanged in public. And people in the street watching them being hanged would often have their pockets picked. Hanging criminals might give you some satisfaction and lure you into false complacency, deluding you into thinking crime will go down. There is no short-term solution. The Western World tried hanging criminals for petty crimes for a long time. China executes 4000 people a year, for charges as petty as taking small bribes. But China is still almost as corrupt as India (China ranks 80th and India 94th in the 2012 Corruption Perception Index).

    You think life in jail is a breeze. Do you know how filthy, inhumane and overcrowded Indian jails are? Can you imagine what its like to live the rest of your life in a 10×10 cell in Tihar jail, with no fan, running water or electrical appliances? To be surrounded by other rapists or murderers? Most criminals serving life terms would voluntarily kill themselves after a few years, rather than live in such horrible conditions. The high number of suicides in Indian jails is proof of that.

    You’re welcome to find solace in your opinions, but remember the criminals being hanged have the last laugh. Five seconds of neck-breaking anguish versus a torturous lifetime of regretting one’s actions, in the worst of environs. No society has ever become civil by coming down to the level of its brutality exhibited by its worst elements.

  3. Raj

    Would you suggest vaginal mutilation as a punishment for woman convicted of any sexual crime?

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