Statements of Radical Socialist

We Condemn Rape, demand action in all cases, but We also Oppose Capital Punishment for the Mumbai Rapists

We Condemn Rape, demand action in all cases, but We also Oppose Capital Punishment for the Mumbai Rapists

Radical Socialist Statement

Radical Socialist, an organisation of internationalist Marxists working in India, is opposed to the death penalty in general. Nonetheless, every time death penalty is invoked, the media sets up a hue and cry about why this  particular case shows such heinous crime that the death penalty must be supported. In this context, we are explaining our opposition to the application of the death penalty for the Shakti Mills rapists.

The death penalty is supposed to be applied in the rarest of rare case. If one looks at the death penalties invoked, a certain class, caste community configuration begins to emerge. The rape of Bhanwari Devi went unpunished. The rapes and killings in the Gujarat pogrom did not result in massive convictions, and in the few cases where convictions were secured after tough battles, this terrible pogrom did not lead the judiciary to hand down large scale death penalties. As opponents of the Death penalty, as we have already stated above, we are not demanding hanging for Maya Kodnani or Babu Bajrangi either. What we do point out is, in these cases, judges remembered the dignity of life. Or, in repeated cases of killings and rapes in the North East, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act stands to protect the suspected rapists and killers.

By contrast, the death penalty was invoked through the abuse of Section 376E. This section, brought in supposedly to punish unrepentant criminals who had been previously convicted, but had not changed their attitudes. To apply this for a set of accused who were on simultaneous trial in two cases is to score points at the cost of degrading the law. Without condoning the rapists, we need to stress that here, the rapists were young boys from poor background.

There are other reasons why we must oppose the death penalty. If the courts send out the signal that raping a woman will lead to hanging, rapists will be more prone to murder them, so as to leave less likelihood of identification and conviction.

The Public Prosecutor, in demanding the death penalty, tried to explain why the “rarest of rare” clause applies here, by saying that a woman would rather lose her life than her chastity.  It was also said that it is an offence against the state and the collective conscience of society demands the death penalty. Yet this collective conscience does nothing to help the raped women to cope with the trauma of rape, as women’s groups supporting the women have pointed out.

·         Scrap Section 376E.

·         Oppose death penalty for rape cases.

·         Maximize conviction

·         Punish all rapists equally, rather than bringing in subtle discrimination based on unstated social factors

·         Oppose and campaign against the ‘values’ of chastity, virginity and masculinity