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Time for an overhaul of rape laws?

As another young girl is gang-raped in Delhi, is it not time to drastically overhaul rape laws that currently provide for a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment in rape cases?

Should the maximum penalty for a rape not be increased to a death sentence? What is the most appropriate punishment for a person convicted of rape? Please share your thoughts and views below…

rape laws



My vote goes for capital punishment. I believe we need to make it emphatically clear that crimes against women will not be tolerated.

December 13th, 2010 Posted by | Current Affairs, Debates & Discussions, Women in Hinduism & India | 16 comments


  1. Also have a look at the petition for “Radical Change in Indian Rape Laws” at http://www.fight-back.net/petition.html

    Comment by B Shantanu | December 13, 2010

  2. At first look it looks reasonable, especially with reference to Gary Becker’s work on the Economics of Crime (interesting paper). Higher sanctions should lead to lower rape outcomes (all other things being equal, and a good conviction rate). However when such a law is passed 2 scenarios might emerge, conviction rate might fall (judges will be more careful in passing such a harsh judgement) and also the very likely scenario that the rape victim will be killed by the rapists. The rapists might as well kill the victim since doing that lowers his probability of conviction without increasing the sanctions in case of aprehension.

    Comment by overcoming-bias | December 13, 2010

  3. I go with capital punishment – Death sentence or Castration (sorry Shantanu if I violated any rules here for being vulgar, feel free to edit/remove)…this is worse than murder. In a society like ours, the victim dies an everyday death and humiliated at every possible instance. However, only a few of these instances see light even in the so called modern times. Many still suffer silently and the lack of punishment plus this silence encourage the criminals!

    Comment by Uma | December 13, 2010

  4. It’s impractical to give the death sentence for rape. There are at least five good reasons why it’s not appropriate to kill someone for this crime.

    Rape isn’t the most serious offence on earth. And capital punishment is reserved for the “rarest of the rare” cases. Rape, though a pretty serious crime is hardly rare.

    Comment by Bhagwad Jal Park | December 13, 2010

  5. I support capital punishment only when rape and murder of the victims both happen together. Otherwise a life imprisonment without any possibility of parole should be the minimum punishment.

    Hey Park, if a gay rapist rapes a man, does that offense count for death penalty according to your liberal manual? You know it is likely to happen but still a “rare” crime. :)

    Comment by Sid | December 14, 2010

  6. In this aspect the people of Middle east who follow the Sharia have a quick and effective way of punishment. Perhaps those clauses could be incorporated as per the recommendation of the CJI of India.

    Comment by Dirt Digger | December 14, 2010

  7. I’m afraid I don’t agree with you, Park. Just because something isn’t rare, doesn’t mean it’s not a terrible crime. Rape is one of the worst crimes in the world and because it’s so common there has to be a terrible punishment for it.

    Sid, just because you don’t agree with Park doesn’t mean you have a right to speak so rudely to him. Rudeness makes your argument weaker, not stronger.

    I think capital punishment is reasonable for serial rapists but only when there is clear undisputable evidence that the accused is guilty.

    The shastras prescribe capital punishment for rapists and even men who behave with disrespect towards women. Duryodhan, for example, was sentenced to death by the Gandharvas when he spoke disrespectfully towards the Gandharva girl. He was known as a man who was serially disrespectful towards women and the judgement of the Gandharva court was absolutely correct. Shame the Pandavas had to free him.


    Comment by Jai Joshi | December 14, 2010

  8. @DD,
    I suspect, within a decade or two, secular will incorporate shariah to make your dream come true.

    To the very respectable self-righteous liberal lady at #7,
    So which word of my question to Park look like rude to you, maam? I have merely provided a scenario and asked him for an explanation. Last time when we “discussed” something, you assumed immigration reform when I simply wrote immigration. I suspect same old reading of queen’s language helped you to jump to this conclusion. Or maybe you do not understand the difference between sarcasm and rudeness?

    Comment by Sid | December 14, 2010

  9. *** COMMENT EDITED ***

    Shantanu I would go with castration.

    *** NOTE by MODERATOR ***

    Pl be restrained in your comments. Thank you.

    Comment by Bhanu | December 14, 2010

  10. Rape is a heinous crime and should be punished with a long prison sentence. If a 10 year punishment is not a sufficient deterrent it should be increased to, say, 15 to 20 years. But capital punishment is not a good way to deal with it. Most countries including possibly India have abolished capital punishment even for murders. I don’t believe a rape, as horrible a croime it is, reaches to the level of a murder. But there is another aspect of it that makes a good argument against it. There was a case in the USA of Gary Dotson who spent 10 years in the prison on false rape charges. The woman ultimately could not take the guilt and came out 10 years later to say that the charges were false. And there have been more of those cases including some date rape charges. Imagine if Gary Dotson was given a capital punishment, the confession would not have mattered.

    Comment by Prakash | December 14, 2010

  11. I disagree with Mr. Park:

    1. The death sentence is for the rarest of the rare cases

    Just because lots of men are doing this and it is not rare does not take away from the gravity of the crime. Does this mean that Mr. Park would support this if there were less instances of rape?

    2. More women will be murdered

    Absolutely not relevant to the discussion

    3. What’s the sentence for even greater crimes?

    Good point – but why create a ceiling effect. We can still have the same punishment whether it is one person or 100 people

    4. Do we want justice or revenge?

    Absolutely justice!!! Revenge is not worth discussion. Revenge would mean that someone else rapes the rapist. Is this worth discussing?

    5. No space for mistakes

    Good point – rape has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt


    Comment by KP Road | December 17, 2010

  12. Other punishment
    Give the accused an ice-cream sundae. Seriously, death for rape? You can recover from a rape, you can’t recover from death. Sure it is an emotionally charged crime, and feelings of revenge and hatred are to be expected and of course natural, but death?

    Might as well kill the one who was raped while we are at it at least then they will never have to re-live the trauma. Let’s say you are raped, what f***ing makes you any better of a person by calling for the death of another person? Taking pleasure in the death of another is seriously messed up, whatever they did.

    Comment by its me | January 14, 2011

  13. I believe castration is the way to go, because giving the abuser capital punishment is the easy way out for that person since there would be no long term suffering like the victim has to go through. With castration, at least the abuser will be left with a reminder of their sins, not to mention they won’t EVER be able to make that same mistake again. Also, maybe society will look down upon them, make them feel degraded, and not be able to get them married off. Sounds pretty similar to what the girls who get raped have to go through, so then its fair game.

    I know some people are against such aggressive actions for what they consider a “common” crime, but that is because it is not them being raped, or it’s not their sister or mother, etc. When it happens to you and your family that’s when people want to take extreme measures. People need to stop being so ignorant and realize what’s happening around us can happen to anyone.

    Comment by MD | May 11, 2012

  14. Links to 2 very depressing articles..
    From Agony of India’s many unfortunate daughters by Dean Nelson:
    Last year, there were 754 arrests for rape in New Delhi, but according to the Union Ministry for Home Affairs only one of those accused has so far been convicted.

    Ranjana Kumari of the Centre for Social Research, who is leading the programme, says the growing number of rapes and the low conviction rates have left women feeling unprotected, while many men see themselves as beyond the law: Only 28 per cent of rape cases and 20 per cent of cruelty cases against husbands are followed by convictions.

    “There is no fear of being punished”, she says. “Because of the [police] approach, it is not considered serious crime. That’s why they need a lot more sensitivity, to see it as a serious crime. Women report only one in 10 rapes, not only because of the policing, but also the huge social shame.”

    From The Colonial Hangover of India’s Rape Law by Rupa Subramanya
    The reasons for the difficulty in securing and upholding rape convictions in India at that time, as now, can be traced to the colonial legal system, as Ms. Kolsky argues.

    Principally, it is the extremely strict evidentiary requirements under the law that are needed to establish that a rape occurred, much higher than in other crimes of violence. To put it bluntly, the victim is as much on trial as her alleged attacker.

    Without going into the technical legal details, the Indian law on rape and the legal precedents that developed around it tended to presume that the victim had engaged in consensual sex unless there was enough evidence to corroborate her claim that the sexual intercourse was non-consensual and she had been raped.

    This presumption of consent was embodied in Section 155 (4) of the Indian Evidence Act, which allowed defendants to offer evidence about a victim’s character and sexual history.

    That gives defense lawyers an avenue to discredit them by suggesting that either they were maliciously and falsely making an accusation of rape or that the sex had been consensual. Incredibly, this section of Indian law remained on the statute books until 2002.

    But instituting fast-track courts, as many people have called for, will by itself do nothing to reform a law that’s still heavily biased against the victims of rape. Nor will fast-track courts change the mindsets of judges hearing cases.

    According to a survey by Sakshi, an NGO active in gender issues, 74% of judges surveyed a decade ago believed that “preservation of the family” should be a principal concern for women even in the event of violence in the home. And 51% believed that women who stay with abusive husbands are “partly to blame” for their plight. Some 68% felt that “provocative attire was an invitation to rape” and 55% felt that the “moral character of the victim” was relevant.

    Comment by B Shantanu | January 5, 2013

  15. From Rapists not mentally ill, but criminals who feel they can get away, experts feel, Malathy Iyer, TNN Dec 20, 2012, an excerpt on why the death penalty may actually be the best option..

    …Closer home, a five-year-long study by Swanchetan, an NGO working in the field of mental health, among 242 inmates of Delhi’s Tihar Jail, showed 70% of the accused were repeat offenders. The study said the offenders had a certain level of confidence when attacking women. Moreover, Swanchetan said the rapists had committed multiple rapes, “on an average at least four”, before being caught.

    Dr B N Gangadhar, professor of psychiatry from NIMHANS, Bangalore, told TOI he is against using psychological or sociological labels for rapists. “There is nothing psychiatric about a rapist. In fact, a person with a psychiatric illness will never commit a rape. It is clearly a criminal mind that has decided to gratify oneself despite the norms of society.’

    Also see: this report from Jan ’13: A 32-year-old man, who was released from jail for his good behaviour after serving sentence in a rape and murder case of a minor girl, was again arrested for allegedly raping and killing a girl in Shirdi, police said on Sunday

    Comment by B Shantanu | January 13, 2013

  16. Putting this here for the record:
    Women having sex should be hanged, says Abu Azmi
    I am speechless.

    Comment by B Shantanu | April 11, 2014

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