Is Death Penalty a deterrent to rape?

Last few days Indian newspapers have been abuzz with the news of sexual crimes, rapes against women. And most of the people in India are of the common opinion:


But one thing we need to understand is whether Death Penalty can actually stop the heinous crimes such as rape. A minority of the activists are of the view that it is not.

1) Death Penalty ≠ No Rape

No stats have proved that death penalty reduces rape incidents. Awarding death penalty is perceived to be an outcome of disgust and anger rather than a well thought decision. Besides, the Justice Committee for Nirbhaya Gang Rape case had a mixed opinion on awarding death penalty as a punishment for rape cases.

2) ↓ reporting

In a higher number of cases, accused are found to be known to the victims. Hence, the death threat to a close family member leads to victims resorting to not reporting the cases. 

3) ↑ violence

Death punishment to rape accused may lead to increased violence. This causes rape accused to make sure that victims are killed or are in a state where they are unable to report the case.

4) Consensus among Judges

Since the last few decades, it has been observed that 30% of the accused awarded death penalties have been acquitted in higher courts. And the remaining 60% have seen reduced sentences instead of the death verdict. So, it signifies that the highest authorities of the Indian Penal system are not in a state of consensus to award the death verdict.   

5) 25439-200.pngto weaker strata of society

Multiple cases have gone on to show that criminal laws in different countries are biased towards the weaker strata of society. Stats have shown that one in every 3 undertrials belongs to a lower section of the society. Another stats show that the majority of the people awarded death penalties belong to the minority section of the society.

6) Rape cannot be equated with Death

It needs to be understood as a whole that rape can is not equivalent to death. Veteran politician Sushma Swaraj had infamously called Nirbhaya victim a “Zinda Laash”. Several women centric organisations had trolled the politician for equating women’s sexuality with her life. 

7) Non sustainable Criminal Justice System

A death penalty for a rape incident is nothing short of an eye for an eye. The death punishment to a rape accused is not a sign of a retributive justice system where there is no importance attached to someone’s life. 

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