Women

Feminists, Women's Organisations Appeal Against Death Penalty of Delhi Gangrape-Murder Accused

'The death penalty often becomes a short cut when, in fact, there is a need to focus on long term social change.'

New Delhi: Almost 400 feminists from across the country have issued a statement appealing to the President of India to stop the execution of all four persons convicted in the 2012 Delhi gangrape and murder case.

The signatories include entire organisations working on women and children’s rights, along with prominent individuals like historian Uma Chakravarti, food rights activist Veena Shatrughna, lawyer Indira Jaising, scholar Nivedita Menon, activist Lalita Ramdas, women studies scholar Mary E. John, transgender activist Rachana Mudraboyina, writer Gogu Shyamala, women’s rights activist and artist Sheba Chhachhi, The Wire‘s public editor Pamela Phillipose, and filmmakers Anand Patwardhan and Nishtha Jain, reiterated their position against the death penalty.

Pointing to numerous instances where capital punishments failed to reduce the number of rapes, murder, sexual assaults and killings, the statement held that the death penalty was not a deterrent against crimes and that countries where the death penalty was not abolished continued to witness high homicide rates.

Also read: Teach the Justice System to Be More Aware of Women

The signatories also held that there was “no short cut to justice and safety” and that the only way to stop crimes against women was to make improve the criminal justice system. Referring to violence against Adivasi and Dalit women, the statement said that there was a “need to understand the pervasiveness of this kind of violence on women and evolve punishments that act as true deterrents to the very large numbers of men who commit, and get away with, such crimes”.

The full statement is reproduced below.

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As individuals and groups who have been engaged in the struggles for women’s rights, safety and justice, it is often presumed that we would support the demand for death penalty for sexual assault. But for decades, even as we have consistently fought to make the world safer for women through changes in policy and law, and social awareness by breaking the silence on these heinous crimes, we have consistently argued against the death penalty for sexual assault, as well as, all other crimes.

In the light of the death warrant being issued on 7 January 2020 against Akshay Kumar, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, and Mukesh Singh convicted of the brutal assault, gangrape and murder of a 23-year old medical intern in Delhi in December 2012, we reiterate our position against the death penalty.

We understand the inexorable pain of the parents and other loved ones of women and children who are raped and, in many cases, killed. However, efforts by politicians and parties, courts and other vested interests to capitalise on their pain and make the case a matter of the nation’s honour, give false hope that the harshest punishment of death will prevent all such cases in the future. The bare truth is that even after the Indian state executed Auto (Gowri) Shankar in 1995, Ranga and Billa (Kuljeet Singh and Jasbir Singh) in 1982, and Dhananjay Chatterjee in 2004 for rape/s and murder, sexual assaults and killings continue unabated.

We are against the death penalty because:

1. The death penalty is NOT a deterrent against crimes, as evidence from across the world shows. In America, where the use of the death penalty varies between states, homicide rates of states with the death penalty are 48-100% higher compared to states without it. Studies in Canada have illustrated that homicide rates remained significantly lower after abolition of the death penalty. And a 2018 multi-country study across 11 nations which have abolished capital punishment also affirms the same.

2. There is no short cut to justice and safety. The death penalty often becomes a short cut when, in fact, there is a need to focus on long term social change, and the State’s failure to ensure the security of women. The only way to stop such crimes is the certainty that the criminal justice system will work with honesty, integrity, competence and fairness against every accused, irrespective of their social standing, power position, class, or caste. Instead, what the State is trying to do is to distract us by creating an ‘illusion of justice’, by selectively hanging people even as it protects others responsible for similar crimes.

3. Tragically, brutal sexual assaults occurs with frightening regularity and impunity in our country, especially against adivasi and Dalit women, workers in the unorganised sector, women with disabilities, hijras, kothis, trans and gender queer physiques, and sex workers. Additionally, during incidents of sectarian violence, women of certain castes and communities become targets of sexual assault, torture and murder. There have been, and continue to be, a large number of women similarly targeted in conflict areas such as Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, and Chhattisgarh. There is a need to understand the pervasiveness of this kind of violence on women and evolve punishments that act as true deterrents to the very large numbers of men who commit, and get away with, such crimes.

4. In the December 2012 case, violence was meted against the victim by strangers, which has rightly triggered a wide discourse on women’s safety in public spaces. However, the majority of sexual crimes are committed by members of their family, neighbours, friends, teachers, guardians and other acquaintances. Not surprisingly, therefore, reporting of such crimes remains abysmally low. In all these instances, the process of seeking justice is severely stacked against victim/survivors, and the conviction rate for reported sexual crimes remains as low as 26%! Consequently, most perpetrators of sexual violence enjoy a high degree of impunity, including being freed of all charges which we believe is the greatest cause for the continued prevalence of such violence.

5. We are not anti-punishment. Rather, we are pro-justice. Let us remember that the Justice Verma Committee, which was set up immediately after the December 2012 incident, stood against death penalty for sexual assault, and as did the Law Commission of India in its 262nd Report on The Death Penalty in 2015.

No matter how heinous the crime, we believe that every human being has an inalienable right to life and holds the potential for reform, if only the State and society will commit themselves to it, instead of baying for blood. In this case, the blood of those convicted in the December 2012 case.

There is no quick answer to stopping sexual crimes. We need to walk together on the long and complicated path to dismantling patriarchal and caste/community-based privilege, impunity and power, and the pervasive misogyny based in customs, tradition, law, the courts, government and society.

We hope the President of India will commute the death sentence of the convicts of the December 2012 case to a lifetime in prison, and in doing so, the lead the nation towards the vision of a society based on equality and justice, not revenge and retribution.

Issued by:

Organisations:

1. Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, New Delhi
2. Forum Against Oppression Of Women, Mumbai
3. HAQ: Centre For Child Rights, New Delhi
4. National Alliance of People’s Movements
5. LABIA – A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Mumbai
6. All India Progressive Women’s Association
7. Women And Transgender Organisations, Individuals Joint Action Committee, Hyderabad
8. Feminists In Resistance (FIR), Kolkata
9. Tarshi, New Delhi
10. Anhad, New Delhi
11. Gamana Mahila Samuha, Bangalore
12. The Feminist Collective, Sonipat
13. Caring Citizens’ Collective, Hyderabad
14. City Makers Mission International
15. Nirantar, New Delhi
16. Shakti Shalini, New Delhi

Individuals:

1. Uma Chakravarti, New Delhi
2. Veena Shatrugna, Hyderabad
3. Indira Jaising, New Delhi
4. Sujatha Surepally, Karimnagar
5. Mary E John, Delhi
6. Sheba Chhachhi, New Delhi
7. Pamela Philipose, New Delhi
8. Rachana Mudraboyina, Hyderabad
9. Gogu Shyamala, Hyderabad
10. Pratiksha Baxi, Delhi
11. Nivedita Menon, New Delhi
12. Priya Pillai, Activist , New Delhi
13. Lalita Ramdas, Alibaug
14. Shabnam Hashmi, New Delhi
15. Anand Patwardhan, Mumbai
16. Yash, Bangalore
17. Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, Hyderabad
18. Vivek, Delhi
19. Vineeta Bal, Pune
20. Vinay, Bengaluru
21. Vikram, Mumbai
22. Vikas Kumar, Bengaluru
23. Vijaya, Bhiamvaram
24. Vidya, Bangalore
25. Victor Van Bijlert, ‘s-Gravenhage, The Hague
26. Vibhuti Patel, Mumbai
27. Venu Arora, Faridabad
28. Veena Gowda, Mumbai
29. Veena Padmanabhan, Gurgaon
30. Vasudha Nagaraj, Hyderabad
31. Vasantha A S, New Delhi
32. Varghese Theckanath, Hyderabad
33. Varghese Manimala, Eluru
34. Vanita Mukherjee
35. Vani V, New Delhi
36. Vani Subramanian, New Delhi
37. Vanaja, Hyderabad 38.Vahida Nainar, Mumbai
39. V V Jyothi, Hyderabad
40. Uzramma, Hyderabad
41. Usha Rani, Hyderabad
42. Urvashi Vashisht
43. Uma Tanuku, New Delhi
44. Tultul Biswas, Bhopal
45. Tripti Jain, Delhi
46. Tejaswini Mandabushi, Hyderabad
47. Teena Gill, New Delhi
48. Tashi Choedup, Bodhgaya
49. Tarangini, Bangalore
50. Tara Rai, Sonipat
51. Tanya, Bangalore
52. Tanisha Ranjit, Delhi
53. Swetha D, Hyderabad
54. Swatija, Thane
55. Swathi Vadlamudi, Hyderabad
56. Swapna, Kolkata
57. Swagata, Bangalore
58. Svati Joshi, Ahmendabad
59. Sushama, Delhi
60. Sunita VS Bandewar, Pune
61. Suneeta Dhar, Delhi
62. Sumitra, Hyderabad
63. Sumita Hazarika, Delhi
64. Sumi Krishna, Bengaluru
65. Sujata Patel, Shimla
66. Sudha Goparaju, Hyderabad
67. Subhash Reddy, Hyderabad
68. Subhash Gatade, Delhi
69. Srinivas K, Hyderabad
70. Srinidhi Raghavan, Hyderabad
71. Srilatha Jayaraman, Mumbai
72. Sridhar A, Mumbai
73. Soma KP
74. Sneha, Hyderabad
75. Smriti Nevatia, Mumbai
76. Smitha, Delhi
77. Smita Gupta, New Delhi
78. Shyamala Anand, Hyderabad
79. Shweta, Mumbai
80. Shweta Malik, New Delhi
81. Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Delhi
82. Shruti Iyer, Bangalore
83. Shreeja, Delhi
84. Shraddha Chigateri, Bangalore
85. Shraddha Chickerur, New Delhi
86. Shomona Khanna, New Delhi
87. Shomasree Majumdar, Kolkata
88. Shobha, Bengaluru
89. Shivangi, Delhi
90. Shirin Rai, Leamington Spa
91. Shefalee Jain, New Delhi
92. Shalini Gera, Bilaspur
93. Sharmistha Choudhury, Kolkata
94. Sharmila Sreekumar, Mumbai
95. Sharifa Siddiqui, Secunderabad
96. Shantha Sinha, Secunderabad
97. Shampa Sengupta, Kolkata
98. Shals Mahajan, Mumbai
99. Shakun Doundiyakhed, Bangalore
100. Shailza, New Delhi
101. Shailendra Awale, Gurgaon
102. Shailajha Rani, Hyderabad
103. Sejal Dave, Ahmedabad
104. Seethalakshmi, Hyderabad
105. Seema, Bhopal
106. Seema Baquer, New Delhi
107. Sebastian Kuthukallunkal, Eluru
108. Satyam Sharma, Samastipur
109. Satya, Hyderabad
110. Sangeeta, Washington DC
111. Sandhya, Mumbai
112. Sandhya Srinivasan, Mumbai
113. Sandhya Gokhale, Mumbai
114. Samyadip Chatterji, Gurgaon
115. Samira Nadkarni, Mumbai
116. Salini Mondal, Kolkata
117. Salina Wilson, New Delhi
118. Sajesh Vijayan, Nedumangad
119. Sahil Jain, Mumbai
120. Sadia Saeed
121. Sadhna Saxena, Delhi
122. S.Rama, Hyderabad
123. Runu Chakraborty, Ghaziabad
124. Ruchira Gupta, Kolkata
125. Rosamma Thomas, Pune
126. Rohini Hensman, Mumbai
127. Ritu Dewan, Mumbai
128. Rithwik Moro, Chennai
129. Ritambhara, New Delhi
130. Rita Manchanda, New Delhi
131. Reva, Bangalore
132. Ratan Mehta, delhi
133. Ranjita Biswas, Kolkata
134. Rama Melkote, Hyderabad
135. Rakhi Sehgal, New Delhi
136. Rakesh Mehar, Bangalore
137. Raju Ram, Jodhpur
138. Rajashri Dasgupta, Kolkata
139. Raja Vemula, Guntur
140. Rahul D’souza, Mumbai
141. Radhika Radhakrishnan, Delhi
142. Radhika Menon, Delhi
143. Rachana Johri, Delhi
144. R. Meera, Thirupati
145. Pyoli Swatija, Delhi
146. Purnima Gupta, New Delhi
147. Puja, Delhi
148. Prof. Mohan Rao, Bangalore
149. Priyanka Samy, New Delhi
150. Priyanka Chaudhuri, Bangalore
151. Priyangee G., Guwahati
152. Prasanna V T
153. Prajval Shastri, Bengaluru
154. Pradip Chatterjee, Kolkata
155. Prabir Basu, Kolkata
156. Prabha Kotiswaran, London
157. Ponni Arasu, Chennai
158. Paroma, Delhi
159. Panchali Ray, New Delhi
160. Pallavi Gupta, Nirantar
161. Nivedha, Chennai
162. Nishtha Jain, Mumbai
163. Nishi, Delhi
164. Nishant, Brooklyn
165. Nisha Gulur, Bangalore
166. Nisha Biswas, Kolkata
167. Nirpinder Singhū, Bhatinda
168. Nina Verma, Mumbai
169. Nikita Arora, Oxford
170. Nikhat Fatima, Hyderabad
171. Niharika, New Delhi
172. Nidhi Agarwal, Rajasthan
173. Neeta Kolhatkar, Mumbauiu
174. Neeraj Verma, Delhi
175. Nawasha Mishra, Delhi
176. Navsharan Singh, New Delhi
177. Naveen, Kompally
178. Naveen Raj Puli, Hyderabad
179. Narasimha Rao Nellore, Hyderabad
180. Nandini Rao Akkaraju, New Delhi
181. Nandini Manjrekar, Mumbai
182. Nalini, New Delhi
183. Nalini Visvanathan, Washington
184. Nachiket Udupa, Delhi
185. N. Jayaram, Bangalore
186. N.N. Srinivasa Rai, Vishkhapatnam
187. Mukta Srivastva, Thane
188. Mitul Kajaria, Ahmedabad
189. Mitra Mukherjee-Parikh, Mumbai
190. Mirai Chatterjee, Ahmedabad
191. Mehrab Modi, Washington DC
192. Megha Sheth, Mumbai
193. Meera Sanghamitra, Hyderabad
194. Meena Seshu, Sangli
195. Meena Gopal, Mumbai
196. Maureen Gonsalves, Bangalore
197. Masooma Ranalvi, Noida
198. Mario Da Penha, Mumbai
199. Marcia D’Cunha, Thane
200. Mansi Iyer
201. Manshi Asher, Palampur
202. Manisha Gupte, Pune
203. Mandira Bhattacharya, Noida
204. Mandakini, Hyderabad
205. Malika Virdi, Pithoragarh
206. Maliha Khan, Hyderabad
207. Madhu Bhushan, Bangalore
208. Madhavi, Hyderabad
209. M. Vijay Bhaskar Reddy, Hyderabad
210. M.D. Riti, Bangalore
211. M. Andrews, london
212. M.A. Shakeel, Hyderabad
213. Laxmi Murthy, Bangalore
214. Lateef Mohammed Khan, Hyderabad
215. Lara Jesani, Advocate, Mumbai
216. Kruthika N.S., Bangalore
217. Krittika Vishwanath, Bangalore
218. Krishnendu Ray, Oxford
219. Kishore Bhirdikar, Mumbai
220. Kirankumar Vissa, Sikandarabad
221. Kiran Gadhave, Salt Lake City
222. Kinjal, Bangalore
223. Khushboo Jain, Delhi
224. Khalida Parveen, Hyderabad
225. Khaja, Hyderabad
226. Keerthana, Hyderabad
227. Kavita Krishnan, New Delhi
228. Kavin Malar, Writer, Chennai
229. Kausumi Saha, New Delhi
230. Kaushiki Rao, Bangalore
231. Kasimsait, Chennai
232. Karuna DW, Chennai
233. Kaneez Fathima, Hyderabad
234. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai
235. Kalyani Menon Sen, Gurgaon
236. Kalpana, Hyderabad
237. Kalpana Purushothaman, Bangalore
238. Kalpana Dayala, Hyderabad
239. Kabir Saund, Kolkata
240. K.Sajaya, Hyderabad
241. K.Ravi, Hyderabad
242. K. Suresh, Hyderabad
243. K. Lalita, Hyderabad
244. K. Venugopal, Kamareddy
245. K. Sudha, Vishakhapatnam
246. Jyotsna Chatterji, New Delhi
247. Jyoti Punwani, Mumbai
248. Jose D. Maliekal, Vishakhapatnam
249. Johanna Lokhande
250. Jitendra Samriya, Jaipur
251. Jitendra Kumar, Sikar
252. Jinee Lokaneeta, New York
253. Jayasree Subramanian, Vijayawada
254. Jayasree K, Proddaturu
255. Jaya Iyer, New Delhi
256. Jaya Bharti, Rajasamand
257. Japleen Pasricha, New Delhi
258. Janani, London
259. Jameela Begum, Mumbai
260. Isabel, Sonipat
261. Indu Prakash Singh, New Delhi
262. Indrajeet Ghorpade, Hyderabad
263. Indira C, New Delhi
264. Ila Ananya, Bangalore
265. Huma Kidwai, Hyderabad
266. Hritik Lalan, Mumbai
267. Honey Oberoi Vahali, Delhi
268. Hena Mehta, Toronto
269. Hasina Khan, Mumbai
270. Harsh Agarwal, Delhi
271. Harischandra, Uppal
272. Gurjeet Kaur, Lucknow
273. Greeshma, New Delhi
274. Gitanjali Joshua, Hyderabad
275. Ganeve Rajkotia, New Delhi
276. G.Umamaheswar, Hyderabad
277. G. Venkat Sai Ganesh, Kakinada
278. Fr. T. K. John, Delhi
279. Flavia Agnes, Mumbai
280. Enakshi Ganguly, New Delhi
281. Dyuti, New Delhi
282. Dr.V.Kanakadurga, Hyderabad
283. Dr. Rafat Seema, Hyderabad
284. Dr. Vijay Rukmini Rao, Hyderabad
285. Dr. Anand, Bangalore
286. Dithhi Bhattacharya, Delhi
287. Dimple Oberoi Vahali, Shimla
288. Dilshad S, Kollam
289. Dilip Hota, Pune
290. Diamond Oberoi Vahali, Delhi
291. Dhatri, Hyderabad
292. Deepti Sharma, New Delhi
293. Deepa, New Delhi
294. Dee, Skillman
295. Dasarathi GV, Bangalore
296. D. Venkata Rao, Hyderabad
297. D. Paparao, Hyderabad
298. Clarence Samuel, Ludhiana
299. Chayanika Shah, Mumbai
300. Charan Singh, London
301. Chandrika Ramagoud, Hyderabad
302. C.G. Manjula, Bangalore
303. Brinelle Dsouza, Mumbai
304. Bittu K R, Sonipat
305. Bina Fernandez, Melbourne
306. Bhupathiraju Ramakrishnamraju, Bhimavaram
307. Bhoomika, Mumbai
308. Bharti Kharbanda, New Delhi
309. Bhaktavatsala Apuri, Delhi
310. B. Govardhan, Fort Wayne
311. B. Syama Sundari, Gajwel
312. B. Girija Devi, Hyderabad
313. Avanish, Kota
314. Atyab Siddiqui, Noida
315. Ashima Roy Chowdhury, Delhi
316. Ashalatha, Hyderabad
317. Ashala Srinivas, Telangana
318. Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM, Lucknow
319. Arpita Jaya, Hyderabad
320. Arlene Manoharan, Bangalore
321. Archana Dwivedi, New Delhi
322. Apeksha Vora, Mumbai
323. Anwar, Hyderabad
324. Anusha Hariharan, Chennai
325. Anuradha Kapoor, Kolkata
326. Anubha Rastogi, Mumbai
327. Anne, Bangalore
328. Anna George, New Delhi
329. Anjali Nayar, Delhi
330. Anjali Bhardwaj, New Delhi
331. Anja Kovacs, New Delhi
332. Anitha, warangal
333. Anita, Hyderabad
334. Anita Singh
335. Anita Cheria, Bangalore
336. Anil, Hyderabad
337. Angbin Yasmin, New Delhi
338. Anandi, Lucknow
339. Anand Mazgaonkar, Rajpipla
340. Amrita Shodhan, Hong Kong
341. Amrita Nandy, New Delhi
342. Amrita Johri, New Delhi
343. Ammu Joseph, Bangalore
344. Ammu Abraham, Mumbai
345. Ambika, Hyderabad
346. Amarjit Singh, Mumbai
347. Amala Dasarathi, Delhi
348. Altaf Ahamed, Bangalore
349. Alka Singh, Gurgaon
350. Akshita, New Delhi
351. Akshara Ravishankar, Chicago
352. Akhileshwari Ramagoud, Hyderabad
353. Akhil Katyal, Delhi
354. Aindri C, Kolkata
355. Ahona Sengupta, Noida
356. Aditya Krishna, New Delhi
357. Adhiti, Delhi
358. Abinav, London
359. Abha, Jaipur
360. Abha Bhaiya, Himachal Pradesh
361. Aarthi Pai, Bangalore
362. Aakash Saikia, New Delhi
363. Aakash Puttige, Hyderabad