J’s case was exceptional, standing out from the mundane background hum of sexual violence in northern India. The attack was of almost unprecedented brutality, committed by complete strangers on a Sunday evening, on the streets of Delhi itself. J was out with a friend watching a film. She was not in a village, nor was she working in a nightclub. She was thus seen as representative in a way that other victims, rightly or wrongly, had never been…
J’s case was exceptional, standing out from the mundane background hum of sexual violence in northern India. The attack was of almost unprecedented brutality, committed by complete strangers on a Sunday evening, on the streets of Delhi itself. J was out with a friend watching a film. She was not in a village, nor was she working in a nightclub. She was thus seen as representative in a way that other victims, rightly or wrongly, had never been. Very soon she had been dubbed “Delhi’s daughter” in the media, and thus neatly slotted into one of the three legitimate categories allowed to women in India: mother, spouse or child.
Within hours of the news of the assault breaking, protesters were on the streets. The reaction of India’s political elite merely fuelled the anger. No Parliamentarians joined the marchers. Instead, the Government invoked colonial-era laws to ban demonstrations, shut metro stations and deployed thousands of policemen to guard the President’s residence, the Parliament building and the homes of senior Ministers. Central Delhi became a citadel, defended by khaki-clad men with lathis, the iron-tipped bamboo staves also inherited, like the attitudes of the Ministers and top bureaucrats, from former imperial overlords. Finally, after a week, the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and Sonia Gandhi, President of the ruling Congress party, made brief televised speeches expressing concern and sympathy, which were dismissed as too little, too late by protesters. The anger grew.
On 25 December, having held on to consciousness for long enough to twice give a crucial statement to investigators, J, still in Safdarjung hospital in the south of Delhi, began to lose her grip on life. Her father, Badri Nath, said: “During the evening, maybe 9 pm, she saw me standing outside the intensive-care unit. She turned to look at me and gestured for me to come. She asked me if I had eaten. I said yes. Then she said: ‘Dad, go to sleep, you must be tired.’ I patted her head. She said: ‘You should get some sleep,'” he remembered. “She took my hand and kissed it. She never opened her eyes again.”
Four days later, J died in a clinic in Singapore, where she had been moved as no facilities for treatment that would even give her a chance of life existed in India. Her body was brought back to India, cremated in a public facility in Dwarka and then, as is traditional, her ashes were carried by her family to the banks of the Ganges, near the village that Badri Nath had left 30 years before, and scattered on the river. The night of her death the angry protests that had been beaten back by riot police in central Delhi and the marches in other cities demanding security for women in India gave way to demonstrations of a different type. There was grief, even shame. At 7 pm, candles were lit across the vast country: on Juhu Beach, where Mumbai meets the Indian Ocean; in the centre of the bustling southern cities of Hyderabad and Bengaluru; at the statue of Gandhi in chaotic, poverty-stricken Lucknow, 1,000 miles to the north.
In Delhi itself, though a city full of temples, mosques and churches, scores gathered at an impromptu shrine set up at the bus stop where J had waited for a lift home 13 days before. Under the hastily printed posters reading “You Inspired Us All” and “No to Violence to Women”, they too lit their candles. “We are feeling very sad. We are feeling very angry. Now we hope our lives will change,” said Archana Balodi, a 24-year-old student. One poster read: “She is not dead, she has just gone to a place where there is no rape.”
At the Jantar Mantar, an 18th-century observatory that is a traditional site of protests in the centre of the city, crowds gathered. J’s death meant her attackers would now be charged with murder, and thus could face hanging. This became the cry that united the otherwise diverse and disorganised demonstrators. “Hanging them is not enough. They should be tortured like she was,” said Srishdi Kumar, a 16-year-old schoolgirl. “Then maybe there will be a change. Why not?” Eight months later, at the conclusion of the trial of her killers, it is difficult to argue that J’s ordeal and death has made much difference in India, at least so far: the rapes and sexual assaults that are now highlighted daily by the Indian media act simply as a reminder of how widespread violence to women is in the country.
The fierce debate in the weeks after the attack – setting conservatives who blamed westernisation against liberals blaming reactionary sexist and patriarchal attitudes – has faded. A package of laws increasing punishments for sexual assault and redefining a range of offences may do some good, campaigners concede, if enforcement is simultaneously improved, but dozens of men accused of rape remain members of local and national parliamentary assemblies. The special funding released by the Government for measures to enhance the security of women has so far gone unspent. Few are confident that gender training for the underfunded police will have much effect. Nor are the new “fast-track courts” – such as the one, only a few hundred metres from the mall where J and Pandey watched Life of Pi, where her attackers were tried – solve the problems of the criminal justice system. “It is a few weeks of outrage against hundreds of years of tradition,” MJ Akbar, a veteran commentator, said. But this may not be so. The concern is that it is the change itself that is generating the violence.
The trial has now ended. Ram Singh, the ringleader in the attack, hanged himself in his cell in Tihar prison in mid-March. J’s family angrily cried that they had been denied justice. “It is wrong that he should be able to choose the timing of his death,” said her brother. The other four adults who have been convicted have been sentenced to death by hanging after all appeals are exhausted. No one is quite clear what will happen to Raju, the juvenile, though he may have to be released after three years’ time in a juvenile reform home.
Badri Nath, his wife and two sons have now moved to a new flat with running water, electricity and two bedrooms, a gift from the Delhi authorities. The family has also received “compensation payments”, in the cold language of the bureaucrats, worth £40,000: more than Badri Nath could have ever hoped to have earned, let alone saved, in his working life. His sons are getting coveted Government jobs. In a recent interview with the Guardian, he repeated one phrase: “I console myself by saying she was a good soul, set free in death.”
Outside in the narrow street, a tanker had just arrived to deliver water. Dwarka’s piped supply is still unreliable. A crowd had formed and neighbours argued as they jostled with buckets. A woman laughed. A motorbike clattered past. A vegetable seller shouted for custom. There was a short burst of music from a tinny radio. But the noise of an evening in a working-class Delhi neighbourhood barely reached the small basement flat where a 53-year-old man sat on his daughter’s bed, and it was very quiet.
– The Guardian
Should Rape Constitute The Death Penalty?
55 % Say Yes
I completely agree that death penalty must be given to the rapists: We all know the conditions of the Indian jails. The criminals enjoy all the facilities over there like a normal person the difference is just that he can not go out. But he is provided with almost all the facilities that a normal Indian enjoys.
What is the use of sending them to jail. And on the other hand the girl and the girl’s family faces shame throughout their life. Most of the time girl’s life is completely destroyed no one is easily ready to marry that girl. She even doesn’t get any job.
Now coming to the point death penalty will create a stat of fear in the criminals and hence such cases can be reduces. Because one has no right to destroy anyone’s life even though if someone does so he should definitely be hanged. On the other hand the awareness programs should be conducted throughout the country to free india from such cases and incidents to happen.
And of course there are difference in rape cases so everyone should not be given death panelty instead the grave of the crime should also be taken care of.
But ultimately the brutal rapers should be hanged in any case.
The only way to stop rape: Atlhough I am a male, I do think women are far superior to us males and should be protected more. I would vote to have every rapist stripped naked and either hung by his testicles in public or have them crushed one at a time. If we did that to all rapists and child molesters, it may drop the male population by 10% but it would be safe for all women and children to walk the streets and that would be worth a drop in the male population.
They get it to easy. : They get it way to easy.
They get put behind bars with food and shelter everyday. Putting someone through that is life scaring and they will never forget it. The victim has to live with that for the rest of there life.
The death penalty should go to all rapists. They deserve the same amount of pain they put the victim through.
Yes rape could constitute the death penalty: Yes, I think that people who decide to commit such a bad act of rape should be able to stand trial for the death penalty. I do not think that rapists can be rehabilitated, and that those who commit rape should be able to stand trial for the death penalty.
Rapist in our society currently get off too easily.: Rape is one of the worst acts that a person can do to another. We should give rapists the death penalty. Even then, these people are getting off easy by getting the death penalty because that victim will have to live with what happened to them for the rest of their lives.
Yes, but they should be raped before that.: A person convicted of rape should have to endure the “eye for an eye” punishment before being put to death. They should have, perpetrated on them by some sadistic person, the exact same thing that they perpetrated on the victim. Then they should be put to death. It still would not be enough, since such a person does not have the same sensibility and their future is not tortured like the victims, but it would be a good start.
45% Say No
No it should not.: There was a study in 1985 by Mary Koss for Ms. Magazine. They asked women “Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn’t want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?” The question was criticized as being ambiguous. Only 27% of women who answered “yes” to that question actually viewed themselves as rape victims. Moreover, 43% of the women who answered “yes” previously had intercourse with their rapist and 42% had intercourse with their rapist at a later date. These findings have been misinterpreted as “1 in 4 women will be raped.” We don’t know how many of those later occasions were voluntary and how many were repeat rapes but this tells us that women who are raped usually don’t immediately break up the relationship.
So I had sex drunk, but I would not want my boyfriend getting killed.
No it should not. : Due to the inconstancy with the degree of violence involved with rapes, I feel that to apply a blanket death penalty to this crime would be very confusing. We already have death penalty for murder in America, yet America has the highest murder rate in the developed world. I would instead support laws that have been statistically proven to reduce rape. Perhaps rehabilitation programs. Also, when there are cases were two drunk teenagers had sex and the perpetrator did not have consent, I believe that it is a lack of justice to sentence that person to death first for their age and second due to the context of the rape. They should be dealt with differently.
It will make it harder for victims to report. : If I lost a limb or was horribly disfigured by someone hammering me down and breaking my limb or horribly disfiguring me, which is permanent, should he get the death penalty? No. As somebody who was raped by a stranger, the damage of rape is not as lasting as losing a limb or being horribly disfigured. People who make extravagant claims about rape are doing as much harm as people who take rape too lightly. Sure, rape is traumatic because having your body invaded so intimately by another against your will tends to diminish your sense of security. But the damage is nowhere near the damage of losing a limb or being horribly disfigured. In addition, some rape victims won’t report the rape because they don’t want the overly harsh punishment. One can make an argument about reported murder cases, but the victim is dead cannot make that decision whether or not to report or press charges, someone does it for them.
No, rape should not constitute the death penalty. : I don’t agree with rape at all. It is a horrible horrible crime against a woman, and in some cases a man. However, I don’t believe it is a crime punishable by death. I think the punishment should fit the crime. I think anyone who commits rape should be sterialized.
No, it should not. : Rape is an immoral thing that I can not even fathom how someone can do that to another living being, however I do not believe in the death penalty. I believe Rapists should be behind bars for life, and not be given good behavior, or an easy time, because their victims will live with this for their entire life.