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India, death penalty for rapists.

More than ten years ago, a case of gang rape mobilized protesters like never before in  India which led the country’s Parliament to change the rules of punishment for crimes like this — the most severe punishment became  the death penalty .

This week, Brazilian Fernanda Santos reported that  she was raped in the state of Jharkand , during a trip to India, on Friday night (1st). She said seven men raped her, and the Brazilian embassy in New Delhi said  three suspects had been arrested .

Women stage a silent protest for female dignity, marching through the streets of New Delhi in India — Photo: Prakash Singh/AFP

The rape that changed India happened in 2012, to a 23-year-old woman who became known as Nirbhaya  (the word means “she who is not afraid”) .

Nirbhaya’s real name is Jyoti Singh, a physiotherapy student from New Delhi. On December 16 of that year, she and a friend went to a movie theater in a shopping mall. When they left, around 8:30 pm, they caught a bus that was no longer running.

There were six men in the vehicle, and they attacked the couple. Nirbhaya reacted to the attacks (that’s how she got her name) and was raped by all six of them and then attacked with a piece of metal – the violence was extreme: they inserted a metal rod into her and her intestine was pulled out.

The two victims were thrown from the bus and ended up on the side of the road. Pedestrians found the two.

Nirbhaya was taken to a hospital in Singapore for treatment, but she died two weeks after the attacks. Her friend survived.

See also: Protesters protest in New Delhi after the gang rape of a young Indian woman on a moving bus.

The protests

The initial reaction to the case took place on the streets. Hundreds of people held protests in the city of New Delhi to demand that the culprits be punished.

Initially, authorities tried to disperse the demonstrations with water cannons and gas bombs.

According to the BBC, India was not used to protests of the magnitude of the demonstrations of indignation over this case.

The main streets of New Delhi were occupied by protesters. The local government even tried to prevent crowds by closing some subway stations. Even so, thousands of people went to the city center.

These demonstrations were the first major moment of discussion about gender-based violence in India. According to reports in the international press, sexual violence was a topic that was rarely discussed in public conversations in the country, but this case received a lot of coverage in the Indian media and the issue began to be raised by authorities.

In 2015, there was a spike in debates because of a BBC documentary called “India’s Daughter”. One of those convicted of the attack gave an interview and blamed the victim for being raped and murdered.

The controversy was so great that the film was banned.

Thousands of people protested in New Delhi, India, against the rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus.

The death penalty

In the following years there was a response from the Legislature. There were the following changes to the laws:

  • The definitions of violence against women have been expanded.
  • Penalties were created for ineffective police action.
  • The penalties for the attackers were toughened – the crime was now punishable by the death penalty.

The death penalty measure for serious cases of rape was approved in 2013, as a government response to protests.

Accused, convicted and hanged

In March 2020,  four men who were convicted of the rape and murder were hanged.

In addition to these four, there were two other men accused of the crime. One of them was found dead in the cell where he was serving his sentence. Ultimately, one of the six men was 17 years old at the time of the crime, and he was jailed for three years, the longest sentence for a minor, and was released.

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