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Stop celebrations, think: Feminist group comments on Nirbhaya rapists' execution

By Our Representative
A Delhi-based “feminist autonomous women's group” claiming to work on violence against women for over three decades, condemning the hanging of the four December 2012 gang rape and murder convicts, has asserted that “capital punishment is not the answer, it has never worked as a deterrent for any crime.”
Appealing to “stop the celebrations and start thinking”, a Saheli statement said, the execution is “tragic and inhuman”, adding, “Capital punishment is not the answer because it has not deterred sexual or any other crimes anywhere in the world.”
Quoting from a joint appeal for commutation made to the President with 400 other feminists and groups in January 2020, Saheli said, “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.”
It adds, “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.”
Asserting that death penalty “only kills rapists, and not the rape culture”, Saheli said, “A very high percentage of men unprivileged by caste, class and religion are sentenced to death, while those of upper castes and classes, assaulters within the family and acquaintances, godmen, teachers and leaders often don’t even face a trial.”
While “rape by strangers is just about 1% of the total reported cases”, Saheli stressed, “Marital rape remains a contentious issue not just within families, but from the point of view of law as well.” It added, as for the “heinous sexual crimes” committed on sex workers, as well as trans and gender non-conforming persons, “even getting an FIR “can be impossible.”
Saheli further said, “Today we are also reminded of the dalit, advasi and tribal women, women from nomadic and minority communities, in conflict zones such as Kashmir, the North-East and Chhattisgarh, etc., have been raped, mutilated and murdered by the men in the uniform, men in power. Yet the state fails to holds its own officers accountable.”
Regretting that “the state is creating a false narrative that death penalty is a form of ‘justice’”, the statement said, “Death penalty is just a distraction from the terrible truth that the state is unwilling and uninterested in dealing with the causes of sexual violence. If anything it is often guilty of protecting those in power accused of such crimes.”

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