“I can’t believe you are saying this! You are saying rapists should not be hanged?”

In a recent discussion with a young man, when I mentioned,

Punishment for the rape should be structured i.e. categorized and graded with severity of the injury to the victim & additional factors”

Gradation of the Punishment may help to limit severity of the cases; as any additional injury caused to the victim may attract more stringent punishment to the accused. In reverse of it abrupt terminal punishments although may act as deterrent but once incidence has been committed, accused may try to kill the victim to escape identification, so severity of the cases will increase & it will an undue risk to the possible victim caused by inherent fault in law. [link] 

He said,

“I can’t believe you are saying this! You are saying rapists should not be hanged?”

“Why aren’t we hearing demands to hang those who throw acid on women? What is the punishment for chopping off limbs or blinding? Those who ask for capital punishment for rape, see a rape-victim as Zinda Laash.” [Zinda Laash is ‘a living corpse’]

Do rape victims see themselves as zinda laash? If there was no stigma, more rape victims would be able to share how they feel.

I shared this  inspiring link with this young man.

” … My goal was to live and that was more important than anything else. I fought the attackers physically at first, and with words after I was pinned down. Anger and shouting had no effect, so I began to babble rather crazily about love and compassion,I spoke of humanity and the fact that I was a human being, and so were they, deep inside. They were gentler after this, at least those who were not raping me at the moment.

….I had earnestly promised the rapists that I would never tell any one but the minute I got home, told my father to call the police He was as anxious as I was to get them apprehended. I was willing to do anything to prevent someone else having to go through what I had been through. The police were insensitive, contemptuous, and somehow managed to make me the guilty party. When they asked me what had happened,I told them quite directly, and they were scandalized that I was not a shy, blushing victim. When they said there would be publicity, I said that was all right. It had honestly never occurred to me that Rashid or I could be blamed. When they said Iwould have to go into a home for juvenile delinquents for my “protection.” I was willing to live with pimps and rapists, in order to be able to bring my attackers to justice.” [“I Fought For My Life…And Won” – Sohaila Abdulali]

Sunita Krishnan, another rape survivor also said,

“The rape per se was not so much of an issue for me. Sunita talks about her own experience of rape.”I don’t know, for some reason I was never traumatized by that, the fact that I was raped. But what happened after that made me think [about] the way my family treated me, the way the world treated me, the way people around me treated me. The sense that thousands and millions of children and young people are being sexually violated and that there’s this huge silence about it around me angers me. This huge normalization of that angers me”. [http://heartbeatsandruns.blogspot.in/2011/01/changing-lives.html]

One woman in an anti rape protest said she felt only those rapists who kill or cause the death of the victim should be hanged.

Related Posts:

Wanted: A world fit for… victims. (Should be Survivors not Victims)


21 thoughts on ““I can’t believe you are saying this! You are saying rapists should not be hanged?”

      • Even so, the focus should be on rehabilitation, not punishment. Only the truly hopeless cases should be relegated to a lifetime in prison, and the ones that aren’t hopeless should be given opportunities to make something better out of their lives.

        I find it hysterically funny when people glorify countries like Saudi Arabia as some kind of beacon of ‘justice’ in their treatment of rapists. Yep, Saudi Arabia, that fine land where you are liable to be lashed like an animal for the horrible crime of being raped against the wishes of your husband, and where raping a woman under certain circumstances isn’t even a crime. I’m sure women are very safe there.


        • A woman raped in Saudi who has no man as witness to prove the crime against her stands no chance of justice in the court because a woman’s witness does not stand there in the court of law.
          Only those women who stay inside the house invsible and mute are safe there.


        • Only those women who stay inside the house invsible and mute are safe there.

          Except they aren’t, because, guess what, marital rape and most recognized forms of domestic abuse aren’t crimes there. Nice, huh?


  1. While I can understand the outrage of people who demand capital punishments for rapists, I also think it is closely connected to the idea that a woman loses her “honour” or even her “soul” when she is raped. Which is simply not true and a completely outdated concept. Many rape victims who kill themselves don’t do it because of the rape but because of the way they are treated afterwards by society. If the survivor is seriously or mortally injured by the rapists, of course the sentence needs to be adjusted to a higher level. Otherwise I think rape should be legally treated like any form of torture, sexual or not.


    • The shame belongs only to rapist, most certainly. Never to the victim – EVER. (And if victim blaming was less acceptable, that would be tremendously helpful to rape victims, that’s true). But, also, the impact and repercussions of being raped – and finding a way to survive that – is a burden nobody should ever have, and the legal consequences need to reflect the seriousness of the crime. I find it quite difficult to reconcile capital punishment anyway (while I most certainly understand the emotional desire for it, especially in this case) but, by the same token, rape is a very serious violation of a another human being, and very much needs to be acknowledged as one. A person doesn’t have to believe that their honour or soul has been irretrievably lost in order to seriously struggle in the aftermath of such a violation, and feel a significant wounding of their basic humanity and sexual dignity.


  2. I think a lot of people clamoring for the death penalty are really expressing rage, more than any kind of reasoned argument. That’s fine by me, as long as the anger does not trump rationality as the basis for decision-making.
    As well, I believe that many would benefit from witnessing how an actual execution takes place, not just in terms of the act itself, but also in terms of how state sponsorship for such an act is actually procured. Away from the heady mix of activism and anger, such an experience could put many things in perspective.

    The reality is that the death penalty is a grisly, inhuman, long-drawn out, expensive process that leaves zero margins for error in a flawed legal system, has no real deterrent effect whatsoever, and serves only to appeal to the most primitive side of humanity.

    The fundamental issue to me is not the severity of the crime. Rather, the fundamental issue is what we really want out of the legal system. Are we looking to get a society with lesser crime, or are we looking for our pound of flesh? Achieving those goals requires entirely different directions of thought and action, and in my view, they are, in fact, mutually incompatible.

    In any case, while rape is undoubtedly a very serious crime, it does not compare to murder, which is after all, the ultimate negation of a human life. Comparisons of the two are more emotive than reasoned, which once again, I am personally okay with, as long as the emotive origins are acknowledged.


    • I think the point that rape is in fact less heinous than murder is VERY important, and cannot be stressed enough. Those who equate the two fall into the trap of unwittingly saying that a survivor of rape is as good as dead.
      It will be interesting to see if the judicial procedure takes place without letting the anger of the people become an influence.

      @Praveen- what do you think of the calls to change rape law? I am of the opinion that existing penal codes are harsh enough to suffice in this particular case- since the charges will include murder as well.


      • Of course, from a sociological perspective, it’s a very important point, and a person’s beliefs on the issue tend to be a pointer towards a whole set of other social attitudes.

        I think the law on rape needs to be changed to bring the definitions and conditions in line with modern principles of justice.

        As for the severity of the punishment, I happen to believe that the primary purpose of incarceration should not be to punish a person for their crime at all, but to achieve the goal of reducing crime through rehabilitation, as well as through establishing deterrence. The quantum of punishment should reflect those goals, and should not be delivered with a view of avenging an act. Keeping that in mind, I do believe that the specified sentencing structure is more than sufficient for the act.

        I also feel – and I’ve said it before – that the excessive focus on punishment that we’ve seen in response to this incident is counterproductive, in that it takes focus away from the larger issues at play here. There are a lot of people who seem to believe that these rapists should be punished in an overly harsh manner, so as to ‘send a message’. Not only do I disagree with this ‘no punishment is enough’ blood lust that seems to have gripped otherwise sensible people, I also contend that any such message would exist solely in the fantasies of these citizens, and would have no measurable effect on rapists, since it would leave the larger social enablers for rape untouched and undiscussed. Since the majority of rapists do not expect to be reported, much less caught, the severity of some far-off punishment that they might theoretically get is a rather irrelevant factor in the absence of institutional mechanisms ensuring higher rates of conviction.

        Instead, harsh, violent state-sponsored punishments legitimize the idea that violence is some kind of solution to complex social problems, an idea that should hardly be agreeable to many in a civilized society.


  3. The efficacy (and necessity) of death penalty as a punishment for rape is an extremely complex debate- involving questions not only about the morality of death penalty on one side, but the proportion and quantum of the punishment and yes, whether such punishment will be effective as a deterrent- which is one of the primary objectives of criminal punishment, to begin with. Please do read an interesting analysis about this at my friend’s blog – http://waywardjusticar.blogspot.in

    From a larger perspective, however, it seems to me to be a step ahead- all this outrage, these demands for death penalty and castration. People can be informed and educated about the more nuanced aspects of the issue, but at the outset, the fact that the people have risen, that they are thinking about the issue at all is INCREDIBLE- in what has been a largely apathetic society. Women need to outrage of course, but we now also need to REACT. This is what I’ve written about at http://igirit.blogspot.in/2013/01/i-am-victim-and-i-blame-myself.html . Please do read and tell me what you think!


  4. See an instance –

    A boy and a girl – both – going to take examination.

    The boy taunts, eve-teases or go to the extent of physically touching the girl on way to the examination hall.

    While the boy will feel jubilant and excited at the examination (though having failed the humanity test), the girl would even enter the examination hall with fear and anxiety.

    Such is the society we live in.

    Boys / Men feel thunder power at their masculinity, while girls / women curse their feminine nature.

    I am no feminist but just a human. Wish everyone be one.


    • Well, that’s a social thing really. A guy who sleeps around with multiple women is seen as a stud, while a woman who sleeps around with multiple men is seen as a slut. It’s the same in western and eastern societies.


  5. The article by Sohaila Abdulali was like a punch in the stomach which knocked the wind out of me with its force! Hats off to this brave lady! I have a lump in my throat. Thank you for sharing this. I had also listened to the TED talk by Sunitha Krishnan long back and greatly admire that lady and the work she has done. I hope and pray that things improve.


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