Will the Threat of the Death Penalty Make Indian Women and Children Safer?

Social Commentary

Will the Threat of the Death Penalty Make Indian Women and Children Safer?

Illustration: Akshita Monga

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ike most people, I first learned about the 2012 Delhi gang rape through the morning newspaper. Reading about the sexual assault and the gruesome, brutal violence visited upon the victim was gut-wrenching. Like most men around me, I felt a wave of shame wash over me, on behalf of my gender. Then that wave receded, and was replaced by a simmering anger, that sparked and flared up with each conversation. It was a national outrage and India was ablaze with the same anger – an anger toward the men who had treated the victim as less than human. They had to be stopped.

#HangTheRapist. In that moment in 2012, at the point the levee of national apathy toward gender violence finally broke, #HangTheRapist was our rallying cry. It felt cathartic to join the chorus of voices that were clamouring for the culprits to be killed. Exterminating the men who brought about such horror would feel like victory. Not just death, I recall enthusiastically participating in many conversations that proposed even more barbaric punishments, from castration to dismemberment to torture. It would only be just, after what they did. An eye for an eye.

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