This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Soumya Raj. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Rapes Are Continuing, And Death Sentence Cannot Solve The Issue. Here’s Why

More from Soumya Raj

By Soumya Raj:

She left the world in the most horrifying and grotesque of manners — raped by a group of six men, which included a juvenile. 75% of her intestines were extracted; the rod they had used to assault and penetrate her with had ruptured numerous organs, both reproductive and abdominal. Still, she garnered a lot of fortitude. In times when there was absolutely no hope that would make it through, she remained strong and for a moment, we thought, yes, she’ll stay alive. She’ll recuperate, she’ll see the justice she’s craving for. She died within thirteen days of the crime.


Nine months on, a lot of people poured onto the streets with candles and placards and posters. Never was there an outcry, a disappointment amongst the people so large. It could’ve happened to anyone, me, you, our sisters or our mothers. If it wasn’t her, someone else would have boarded the bus and met the same fate as her. The whole effort to arrange a bus and drive it around the South Delhi area in the a state of intoxication is scary, just what if, what if, I was the one returning from a movie that night with my friend? Thousands of questions run through my mind as I look back to the day, as I imagine myself at her place.

The people were hungry for justice, this level of crime was one of the “rarest of rare” cases, and every imaginable sort of protest was coming up by the people. So when a couple of days later, the verdict was announced, it was a death penalty for four of them; and three years in reformatory home for the underage boy. At first, the common reaction was happiness, relief, a sense of victory. The battle has been won, the four of them would meet the same end that they treated the girl to. And this was a common response, I’m sure, after witnessing a crime at this scale, there was absolutely no option for forgiveness, no option to let the perpetrators live on. Life sentence was out of question. 14 years in prison? No, that is too less, let’s just hang them by a noose and finish them off one by one, because that’s the only logical solution to taking.

How will it help? Will one death penalty change the course of all rapes? Will no rapes happen now? Will I be able to step out of my house without a pepper spray and pocket knife? Will no men ogle at me on the streets? Will every form of sexual, domestic, verbal, physical assault stop against women? We all know the answer, we know it won’t. In 2004, Dhananjoy Chatterjee was hanged at the Alipore Jail, Kolkata, for raping Hetal Parekh, a fourteen year old and then eventually murdering her. Death penalty was awarded to him too, for a rape which had happened way back in 1990, and his case wasn’t even “rarest of the rare”. From 2004 to 2013, nine years have passed and we witness another death sentence for another rape. If we go by the logic that hanging all the rapists will transform the safety front for women in India, we’re very much mistaken. We should’ve learnt our lesson way back, almost a decade ago.

There will come another rape case, I’m sure, in the next few years. If things go as they are going, the rapists will be hanged too. The victim will have already died, succumbing to her wounds and an agony of having been assaulted in the most horrific manner. The basic mindset regarding females is wrong, men and women alike are nurturing the wrong perception vis-à-vis women. Young, pubescent boys derive their observation of a woman’s body, existence and sexuality from lewd sources like porn, grow up in an environment where their mothers can’t have a job because they’ll attend the same office with hundreds of men, where they are taught to be always ready to show their upper hand in the family through their penis, where they already assume that whatever a woman of whichever age is doing, is wrong, and she must be punished, in the most disturbing fashion, and the reasons can be as trivial as wearing short clothes, having a male friend, attending school or even withdrawing sex.

We have cultivated, over generations, a beast of a mindset. This needs to change. Of course, the laws do too, for the death verdict, by concept, has been approached as an ultimatum by the government — if you commit such a heinous crime, it would be you next on the noose. The consideration is accepted and appreciated, but wouldn’t it be better if we first give out the message that this shouldn’t be done at all to any woman? The whole judgment is approached as an after step to the crime, which is wrong. We need stricter supervision, safety of half of the country’s population is not a joke. If hanging these four men will solve this issue, and all the rapes in the country will stop, then the judgment is perfect. But we know it is not, it will happen again, and soon enough, as well.

You must be to comment.
  1. Manan Grover

    Changing the narrow mindsets of people towards women is definitely a long process but short term actions like an example setting punishment for the rapists was more than required. Agreed that this death penalty verdict does not guarantee a safe and secure society for women,but it surely instils fear among those who will think before committing this heinous crime.

    1. Raj

      I find the sign that the seemingly well-educated young lady is holding very disgusting. Would she say “Every act that violates a MAN’s dignity is rarest of the rare”, thus qualifying the perpetrator for the death penalty? It is very sexist but nobody seems to care.

    2. Soumya Raj

      Mr Raj, I do not value your comment here. If you want to start something equivalent to feminism for men, please go ahead. Youth Ki Awaaz will wholeheartedly support you. EVERY ACT THAT VIOLATES A MAN’S DIGNITY IS NOT RAREST OF RARE, YOU KNOW WHY? Because literature was denied to women till Victorian age. Because jobs are still denied to women. Because men marry women to have children. Because everyday thousands of women a burned for dowry. Because hundred of foreign tourists are raped everyday here. Because women still are denied education! I SUGGEST IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING VALUABLE TO CONTRIBUTE, KEEP OUT OF THE ARTICLES. I have been following you for quite sometime, and I believe you need a place to rant about your own expectations from the society. Elections are approaching, contest in them if you are so hell bent on making a difference. THERE IS NOTHING SEXIST ABOUT THIS PICTURE EXCEPT YOUR CHAUVINIST MINDSET WHICH PLACES MEN ABOVE WOMEN. YOU DON’T SUPPORT GENDER NEUTRALITY, YOU SUPPORT PATRIARCHY. AND. Had a you been raped, I would also hold a placard at India Gate protesting violence against your dignity saying every act against Mr Raj is rarest of rare, please do something about the men in this society who are already the privileged lot, and don’t give me any excuse Mr Raj, you know the infanticide rate, you know the sex ratio, you know the foeticide rate, you know the murder rate, you know the rape rate and you know the rate for which every woman is educated for every man. Every twenty minutes a woman gets raped in India and a man is raping her. Can you do something about this demography? Can you do something about all the women who are assaulted with acid at every small thing? Can you deny this? I DARE YOU. I DARE YOU TO DENY THIS AND SAY WE ARE SEXIST.

  2. kalpana sharma

    the honourable court should have called and enquired the parents and their teachers and their near circle of relatives where they failed in shaping these mindsets. we often hear of panchayats and khaps pronouncing how one should live in a society, ask them too what role they have in creating such mindsets in society. this judgments is addressing the tip of an iceberg. the roots of such criminal mindsets remain intact.

More from Soumya Raj

Similar Posts

By Poonam

By Archana Pandey

By Praveen Kumar sharma

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below