The Death Penalty for Rape: Barbaric or Justified?

On Tuesday September 10, 2013, a Prosecutor called for the hanging of four men convicted of gang raping a 23-year-old Indian woman, after one man cried for his innocence as he was brought into the courtroom.

This brutal crime took place on a New Delhi bus when the woman was coming home from a movie with her male friend. The four men tricked the two to get on the bus.  They ferociously beat the woman’s friend and took turns raping the woman. Having had parts of her body pulled out by a rod, the victim died two weeks after the attack. What is even sadder is the woman was waiting on exam results having just completed her degree in physiotherapy. This assault sparked public anger over the sexual violence women in India commonly face.

The Prosecutor said, “There can be nothing more diabolic than a helpless girl put through torture.” He said the crime “shocked India’s collective conscience.”

The defense, on the other hand, asked for a sentence of life imprisonment.  He reasoned that Indian law calls for execution only in very exceptional cases and that the confessions were elicited through police torture.  Is he saying that a case where a 23-year-old bright woman is brutally attacked by four men, gang raped, has her body parts severed, and dies as a results of her injuries two week later is an ordinary case?  Even if this is simply a zealous attempt to represent his clients, it has to shock his conscience like it did the rest of India.

Judge Yogesh Khanna said a sentence would be handed down on Friday.

Do you think sentencing the men to be hanged is barbaric or unjustified? If there is no death penalty for these men, are the men really brought to justice? If the death penalty is too barbaric, what are the alternatives to the death penalty that may give the family of the victim some justice? On the other hand, if the death penalty is justified, do you think this is a fair precedent to set across the world?

Source: Fox World News

Picture: Google Images



  1. The crime committed in this scenario is truly disgusting and in my opinion, is one of the worst crimes a person could possibly commit. The physical and psychological effects resulting from such a horrendous crime are well documented and perpetrators of this crime need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. In this particular case I feel that the death penalty is completely justified, especially due to the fact the actions of these men led to the death of the victim. Although an argument can be made that a hanging is too barbaric, it is hard to argue that a death penalty is unjustified in this case. To truly be an effective punishment both a retributive and deterrent effect should be incorporated into the punishment and in this case I feel that both of these effects are met. At the very least, it seems that life in prison would be the only other appropriate punishment in this case.

  2. According to Reuters website, “Indian judges hand down on average 130 death sentences every year, but India has executed just three people in the past 17 years”. This disinclination towards actual execution would lead one to believe that India may be on the way to abolishing the death penalty. But it seems that pro death penalty views have been on a recent upturn in India. Two out of the three previously quoted executions have occurred within the last year. As Reuters also stated, “India voted against a U.N. draft resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions” in 2012.

    Although the past two executions in India have been for militant attack convictions, I believe that the actions these four men have admitted are worthy of the harshest punishment. They mercilessly tortured, mangled, and caused the death of an innocent woman. Rape crimes are profusely committed around the world and many offenders are never brought to justice. I hope that this case starts a precedent that these crimes will not be tolerated.


  3. Considering the specific facts of this case, I do not believe that the death penalty would be too barbaric for these men. This does not seem like an ordinary rape case. These four men intentionally and knowingly attacked the young woman, and they not only raped her but also caused her ultimate death. Had they not raped her so violently, the young woman could have still been alive today. As the article mentioned, these kinds of incidents are common in India. Therefore, the criminal justice system must develop strategies, which could deter these kinds of behaviors. Deterrence could happen through the judicial decisions so the courts play a big role in exercising this power. If the Indian courts start giving harsher punishments to these kinds of criminal acts that result with the death of the victim, I believe that the crime rates would go down in India.

    However, if the court would give a death penalty for these criminals, this should not rise to the level where it can set a fair precedent across the world. Every case should be evaluated within its specific facts and should not be broadened as to cover similar national or international cases.

  4. An eye for an eye is never justifiable, unless it can somehow benefit the victims and prevent future incidence from occurring. Criminals commit crimes because they do not think they can get caught -it does not matter what kind of punishment is being enforced because again, people perform illegal acts because they think they can get away with it. With that being said, what may be effective is to push for more police supervision. In addition, rape itself is not exactly a “sexual act” but an act of violence. This inevitably raise questions about “nature” vs. “nurture”. Mothers need to raise their boys to respect women and to realize that women are their equal. Furthermore, women must work together and fight for changes. As for the punishment itself, some sort of working camp would be more beneficial to society instead of allowing those criminals to have a shelter, with food and water, and a bed to sleep at night. Of course they should have basic needs, but they also need to do something to contribute to society instead of taking up space on earth.

  5. In my opinion, these men deserve the death penalty. These men, or should we say boys, chose to interrupt the life of an innocent women and caused it to end prematurely. They may not have intended for her death, but the brutality of the rape shows that they had little regard for her physical state post the incident. This is an absolutely barbaric and inhumane set of circumstances, and a message must be sent to the people of India, that this behavior will not be tolerated. However, is the threat of death really the best deterrence for this kind of criminal behavior? Perhaps India needs to have a self-reflexive mentality and really analyze why their culture has had a rash of gang rapes in the past few months. Only then can the root of the problem be eliminated. Mistreatment of woman is a mentality that is learned from the generations that have come before us. What is interesting about India is that they have had elected female leaders of their country, something America has yet to accomplish.

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