If not capital punishment for a rapist, India should look at chemical castration as an option | Kiran Manral

If not capital punishment for a rapist, India should look at chemical castration as an option

Tehelka archive

As I write this, the news feeds talk about yet another rape in Delhi. This time, horrifically, in a moving bus, a gang rape in which the staff of the bus also participated— according to reports. The victim and her male friend, who was dropping her home, were brutally assaulted and thrown off the moving bus. The victim is in the ICU with severe injuries, including those on her head. The doctors treating her are horrified at the extreme injuries she has sustained and doubt she will survive.

Some days ago, a 16-year-old returning home was raped by two men who were keeping watch on her movements. A neighbouring family, which happened to be related to one of the rapists, watched on and did nothing to intervene. Traumatised and humiliated, she poured kerosene and set herself on fire. She died a day later in the hospital. This happened in Haryana.

This September, in Haryana again, a young Dalit girl was raped by perhaps eight men. They warned her not to tell anyone about it, or they would kill her. She didn’t, terrified. But then they began circulating the videos they had taken of her, one of these happened to reach her father. Humiliated, the father committed suicide.

There are too many cases to write about. The cases I’ve mentioned are just indicative. Rapes are on the rise across the country.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a woman is raped every 20 minutes in India. What is more shameful is that according to the statistics, the possibility of someone being convicted for the crime has declined by a third. Last year, 24,206 rape cases were reported — up 10 percent from 2010. This shows an increase of 873 percent since 1971 from when the Crime Bureau began recording these statistics. What is scarier? Last year, every third victim was a child. And that many cases go unreported. According to reports, for every case reported, 50 go unreported.

If you thought that rape was a crime committed by strangers in the dark, know that a majority of rapes are committed by a person known to the victim, who stalks the victim, knows the victim’s schedule and, more importantly, has the victim’s trust and access to the victim. Stranger rapes are a miniscule percentage of the rapes committed but get reported more often, according to the Delhi police. “In 2011, only 2.46 percent stranger-related rape cases were reported, in comparison to 3.94 percent in 2010.” They also said that around 97 percent of the perpetrators were known to the victims. (Indian Express, 7 January 2012).

Many sociologists and social commentators have attempted to analyse the various factors that could be leading up to this alarming rise in the number of rapes. We have reasons ranging from change in social attitudes, urban isolation, declining gender ratio, easy access to pornography, distorted perceptions of relationships, the social taboo around sex, apart from completely ludicrous ones like Jitender Chhatar’s, Jind’s thua khap panchayat leader, laying of the blame on the increased consumption of spicy food such as chowmein.

To quote him, “To my understanding, consumption of fast food contributes to such incidents. Chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance evoking an urge to indulge in such acts. You also know the impact of chowmein, which is a spicy food, on our body. Hence, our elders also advised to consume light and nutritious food.” Solutions provided by these khap panchayats included lowering the age of marriage for girls to 16, because they think that apparently married women don’t get raped, and early marriage for women keeps their sexual desires in check. Of course, male sexual desire has no such restrictions imposed.

Other reasons proffered for the rise in rapes is that women are wearing increasingly provocative clothes, if one has to believe Andhra Pradesh DGP V Dinesh Reddy, who at a press conference in Hyderabad, blamed women for provoking people with fashionable clothing. And how could one forget Mamata Banerjee, the West Bengal chief minister, who explained that one of the main reasons for the increase in rape cases in the country is due to the rise in free interaction between men and women. To quote her, “Earlier if men and women would hold hands, they would get caught by parents and reprimanded but now everything is so open. It’s like an open market with open options,” (IBNlive, 15 October 2012).

If these custodians of our morality are to be believed, infants and geriatrics would never be raped, a woman would never be raped in her own house, women wearing salwar kameezes, saris or ethnic wear would never be the victims of rape, no rapes would be committed in the day time and only strangers commit rape.

A revealing investigation by Tehelka caught on camera the attitudes of policemen in the National Capital Region towards rape victims. “Seventeen senior cops of over a dozen police stations across Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad and Faridabad were caught on spy camera blaming everything from fashionable or revealing clothes to having boyfriends to visiting pubs to consuming alcohol to working alongside men as the main reasons for instances of rape. ‘It’s always the woman who is at fault’ was in essence the argument offered by a majority of the cops. Many of them believe that genuine rape victims never approach the police and those who do are basically extortionists or have loose moral values.” (NDTV.com).

The Union Cabinet in July this year approved the proposal for introduction of the Criminal Law (Amendment ) Bill, 2012 in the Parliament. According to this bill, “The punishment for sexual assault will be for a minimum of seven years which may extend to imprisonment for life and also fine for aggravated sexual assault, i.e., by a police officer within his jurisdiction or a public servant / manager or person taking advantage of his position of authority etc. The punishment will be rigorous imprisonment which shall not be less than ten years which may extend to life imprisonment and also fine.”

Rape is not a crime of lust but a crime of opportunity, the opportunity and the perceived risk ratio, which leads the perpetrator to believe they can get away with it. This is because of the very real possibility that most women will not report a rape due to the social stigma that will follow. And also because most men believe that they will be out on bail, or get out after serving a minimal sentence.

What we do need are fast track courts to deal with rape cases, increased convictions, a sensitised police force, in-camera hearings, and social support that allows a victim to report a rape without the fear of social stigma and being tarred as a scarlet woman.
To deter people from committing rapes, we definitely need more severe sentences. If not capital punishment for extreme cases, then chemical castration is definitely an option to be looked at. What we also need is an open to public online database of convicted sex offenders and rapists, so people can be on the alert, the way it is in some countries. The fear of social shame and chemical castration might just be a deterrent, might just erase that mocking impunity, which underlines the brazenness with which rapes are being committed these days. Also, we need laws to be relooked at in order to do away with the growing incidents of consensual sex in relationships turned sour being turned into rape cases. These are at best cases of cheating, and definitely not rape, which is an invasion of a person’s body against their will.

And more importantly, this generation of parents has to push for the change in mindsets that needs to begin at home. Bringing up our boys to become men who will respect women, who know that a No means a No and not a Perhaps, Maybe, or aYes. To stop the ridiculous concept of stalker like wooing that our cinema has popularised, where in order to get a girl to be romantically interested in him, the male lead has to behave borderline stalker obsessed and harass a girl in so persistent a manner that in real life he would be eligible for a restraining order. Our movies need to take a hard look at how they’re depicting stalking, street sexual harassment and yes, rape. We need to watch our vocabulary, rape jokes that get forwarded and laughed at are not funny in the least. They trivialise a serious crime and need to be stopped.

The basic premise behind rape is not sexual, contrary to popular perception, but that of power, that of opportunity, that of impunity. It comes from years of being brought up to think that a woman is a non entity and immaterial.

Our boys are brought up to believe that they are more important than their sisters. They are denied nothing, given everything. They think they will get away with rape. Very often they do. Traumatic and cumbersome procedures for registering rapes, lack of sensitivity while dealing with victims by both the police and medical personnel, result in most rapes going unreported.

For our girls, we need to teach them self defence. And make it compulsory. Every girl needs to learn how to fight off an attacker. Every school and college should introduce self defence classes for girls. Every girl needs to carry something article for self defence in her bag, a taser gun, pepper spray, even a whistle.

Above all, we need to be a society mature enough to stop blaming the victim. Only when we stop saying, “Don’t get raped” to our girls and start saying “Don’t rape” to our boys will things ever start to change.

(The views expressed in this column are the writer’s own)

Please Note: Tehelka doesn't have regulatory control over messages appearing on social media including Facebook and Twitter. Tehelka also doesn't subscribe to any views or comments by the readers.

  • http://www.girishforyou.blogspot.com Girish

    1.Rape is not a crime of lust but a crime of opportunity, the opportunity and the perceived risk ratio, which leads the perpetrator to believe they can get away with it

    2.Only when we stop saying, “Don’t get raped” to our girls and start saying “Don’t rape” to our boys will things ever start to change.

    I pick these 2 lines..Kiran.

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Thank you. I hope as a society we pay heed or living in India is going to be impossible for the next generation of our daughters.-K

  • http://Website SK

    capital punishment? chemical castration? you think that is just? I would say, follow due process of law – establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and then – peel their skins and throw them into a cage with hungry dogs, alive. And write articles about the effectiveness of the punishment. That way, next person to think of raping would pee in his pants.

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      I do agree that we need to make an example of the perpetrators in order to make the next potential perpetrator think twice before laying a hand on a woman against her will. Capital punishment is too easy I feel. We need a solution that will have a person regret his action every moment of his life, which is why I suggested chemical castration.–K

      • http://Website Adhnan Rasheed

        But dont you think rape is also a crime of violence. Wont the person subjected to castration still involve himself in other forms of violence against women?.. And what about the child rapists?.. dont you feel that capital punishment is the least they deserve?..
        Also when thinking from the perspective of the relatives of the victim, capital punishment is the best solution.

        Btw well written article.. Hats off!

  • http://Website teepee

    My brain, admittedly perverted but down-to-earth practical, has an unconventional solution to wipe out the curse of beastly crime of gang rape. (latest Delhi gang rape case-specific and not the Gujarat specific rape and murder cases of 2002)
    It envisages neither death penalty nor jail term of any duration. The central theme is the FULL FREEDOM ENVISAGED. Once the conviction of the accused is obtained through fastest track court proceedings following due process of law and the completion of all appeal process,all within a matter of maximum two months, the convict is eligible to enjoy full freedom which he used to enjoy before the rape crime, which includes staying in the same house with the family, pursuing the same vocation, participating in all the same social & religious activities in the neighborhood and so on. It is the duty of the police to ensure that the convict is making use of the freedoms allowed daily without fail.
    The convict must GIVE UP that which turned HIM into a BEAST. At the time of sentencing the quantum of punishment, he can opt for either SURGICAL OR CHEMICAL CASTRATION, the certificate of which will be TATTOOED on the forehead , which is forbidden to be hidden in any manner.
    The convict is not allowed to change his residence during his life time and no relaxation is allowed in reporting daily to the specified police station , carrying his ringing identification bell.
    Will accept any suggestions from learned KIRAN MANRAL gracefully

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Far from learned I am, but very interesting solutions proposed by you. -K

  • http://Website B T Jahnavi

    Change should happen right from the base.There should not be any difference or discrimination in bringing up a girl and a boy child. We should make our daughters smart, confident, intelligent, both mentally and physically strong and stop over protecting. Instead teach her how to protect herself. Educate girls about rape and and how to handle the situation if had to face.

    And one more thing the punishment should be severe for all rapists. They must and should be hanged till death. Even death will be very less punishment for such crime. amendment should be made in the constitution.

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Absolutely, change needs to happen from family level. Attitudes need to be changed and that can happen during the childhood itself. And severe punishments, agree. -K

  • http://Website Sarah

    Wer can we get pepper sprays..?

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Most chemists stock them.

  • http://Website KB

    they shuld be castrated… EYES shuld be removed and donated to needy.. thy shuld live in pain each day of their life… and instead for asking strict law , implantation shuld be strictly followed… even small crime shuld taken seriously eve teasing .. molestation..so tht every one shuld be feared of doing such big crime..

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      The bottomline is that punishment should be severe enough for them to hesitate before committing such an act.–K

  • http://Website Vineet

    Punishing the perpetrator doesn’t end things… The main problem lies in our society, they way people think and perceive things. unless the society decides to change, to start respecting women, treating them as equals, I fear all this is a lost cause.

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Agree, which is why I say in homes and at schools we need to start changing the way we bring up our children. -K

  • http://Website raspak

    Brilliant Article Kiran..I think chemical castration is a better option then chemical castration. The administration should adopt the Tibetan law for rape cases. I slightly disagree to your Bollywood point,rather its a contradictory point because there are quite a few movies which also teaches some good values. Thanks!
    Good job!

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Valid point, true. There are the movies with good messages too. If only we could be inspired by them. –K

  • http://blog.tehelka.com rani

    Hi Kiran Read ur Blog and liked it . I m 28years old married lady and i am too much upset with this incident. just want to know the date when this rapist will be hanged or chemical castration will take place i just hope it wont take years for this. I know we common people cant do anything but the incidents are really horrifying why girls only have to suffer why cant this so called male suffers due such incidents. A girl can only understand a girls feeling and i can actually feel the pain of this 23year old girl what not she is going through.God give her strength.

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Thank you for your comment. Alas, I don’t think we can have a fixed date yet, but yes, the entire country is looking for assurances of severe punishment for the accused. –K

  • http://Website advocate swati shukla

    well while thinking about the punishment for those sick rapists.. i think simultaneously we should also do something strong so that the crime like Rape couldn’t be happen again…we have to set an example while giving the punishment for those bastards who are mentally sick and are inclined towards the rape..death penalty or the life imprisonment is not the solution..infact first they should get chemical castration and then slowly slowly cut their whole body parts so that they can feel the pain…because untill and unless they dn’t feel pain they won’t stop..

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Thank you for your comment. –K

  • http://Website Usha Padiyar

    Castration of rapists with rigorous life imprisonment is the only substitute for Death Penalty!

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Agree. –K

  • http://Website Uma Subramaniam

    To stop the ridiculous concept of stalker like wooing that our cinema has popularised, …” While this is one aspect of cinema that has got to stop. The other is Bollywood’s glorification of porn dance under the moniker of “item number.” With each successive movie, these dances are getting increasingly raunchier, perpetuating the cult of female seduction as mandatory for the sexually hungry male. Our hapless Bollywood heroines collect “item numbers” like scalps paying scant attention to the kind of message they are perpetuating in society. While castration seems an apt punishment, it doesn’t address the cause of violence towards women. The solution has to include RESPECT. I’d like to see at least one Bollywood heroine, say Kareena Kapoor or Priyanka Chopra, REFUSING to do item numbers going forward. I’d like to see at least one director eschewing this disgusting acting from his movie. Perhaps then the message might have a chance of sinking in.

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Interesting point, thanks.–K

  • http://fairy-tales-alive.blogspot.in R. Saroja

    I do not know the legal position on sentences running concurrently vs sequentially. We as a country are notoriously tolerant when it comes to handing sentences to powerful even when they are convicted. I do not understand the meaning of life sentence when the convict is soon out on parole. And a lawyer like R.K.Anand convicted of the offence of trying to influence a key witness in BMW hit and run case gets away without any imprisonment and with the punishment of rendering “free” service. Now let us keep a watch over the progress of appeal in the case of rape involving the actor Shiney Ahuja convicted of raping his maid.

    As a woman I am very happy with the number of men who are outraged by offences against woman and who are joining the calls for zero tolerance for rape. But rape is only one form of violence, of torture and humiliation of the victim. There was this case of Rathode who was accused of molesting a schoolgirl. This girl committed suicide as her brother was being tortured by police after being framed in a theft case. Rathode should have been tried and punished for torture and abetment to suicide. But the powerful are “one of us” and never even face serious prosecution .

    Just open a news paper and see the number of rape cases. Are we going to hang all of them when even in cases involving murder, death sentence is an exception than the norm? Let us instead ask for higher sentences with explicit provision in the law for sentences running sequentially.

    And let the media not concentrate its coverage on the victims. There is nothing special in the victims that resulted in the crime except that they came in contact with the rapists. Concentrate on the rapists. Was their family “overindulgent” with them? Did they consume violent pornography? Have they attended school regularly? Is hanging out in a gang the only or major way they socialize? Of late there have been several cases involving “gangs’ of young men, ready to attack and kill over real or imaginary “slights”.

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Absolutely. This overt interest on the victims is predatory. We need more focus on how the rapists were brought up, what made them turn into the warped men they’re become what they are.

  • http://Website Ashok

    I don’t support Capital Punishment, since they don’t feel much pain for what they did. I agree with Chemical Castration, but i still feel it is not severe. May be cutting the whole reproductive thing works.

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Thanks for your comment. –K

    • http://Website Shital

      I agree! Get rid of the whole reproductive thing and perhaps chemically inject them with something that inhibits their sex drive and induce pain. Justice needs to be served. This poor girl has gone through so much and these men should go through the same thing if not more. Disgusting low lives.

      • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

        Hopefully, there has been enough public pressure for fast tracking on this case. –K

  • http://Website rajeev

    I agree with sentiments and I agree there is need of deterrent (fast track court, more punishment) but chemical castration sounds very talibani. I think there was no need to qualify girl as dalit in “This September, in Haryana again, a young Dalit girl was raped by perhaps eight men”. It could happen to any girl.

  • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

    True, point taken. In this context though it was the social structure which escalated the situation for this girl, leading to her father committing suicide, if you read up on the case. But yes, it could happen to any girl. –K

  • http://Website Shital

    India needs to get a move on with taking drastic measures in regards to these rape cases. It makes me abhor Indian men even more! Those men need to b castrated surgically without anesthesia. That still won’t b enough for a punishment. But india seriously needs to make a decision fast and not a weak sauce kind either.

    • http://Website Kiran Manral

      Agree, we need to speed up and make our sentencing more severe. –K

  • http://Website Rishi

    Well written article Kiran. Even though I applaud the “eye for an eye” sentiment of the public, I don’t fully agree that Chemical Castration is a perfect solution. I have read too many cases were castrated individuals have gone on to commit the same crimes again. If anything a castrated & socially outcast man can be an even bigger threat to himself and society. IMO, a castrated rapist should never be released back into society. Let him forever rot in jail or be hanged in public.

    We can talk about amending our laws & empowering our women but the deeper issues that face us are poor family upbringing & lack of education. Every crime can be traced back to these two issues. Any educated man brought up in a family where he is made to respect women from childhood would never commit a crime so heinous.

    It’s high time India made Education its #1 priority.

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      You know Rishi, I am on twitter a lot and the amount of troll tweets I get for some of my opinions has made me conclude most folks who do so are literate but not educated. So more than education, it is an attitude of respect towards women that needs to be inculcated…–K

  • http://Website Imran Khan

    Ms. Kiran, your ans to on of the comment whch says “The bottomline is that punishment should be severe enough for them to hesitate before committing such an act”… lies in the below mentioned link…but Questions being who want’s to follow Shariah law


    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Sometimes one feels maybe Shariah law might set an example, but at the end of the day we are a democracy and laws need to be strengthened, as well as punishments enough to be deterrents but brutal punishments will lead to a brutal people. –K

  • http://Website Anupam Varma

    I agree with Rishi. A castrated and socially outcast can be a big threat to the society. A rapist should be castrated and jailed for whole life, and not to be released under any pretext.

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      Yes. Jailed for life until death through natural causes. –K

  • http://Website Alwin Joseph

    Hi Miss, It is very good article. I have some suggestions.
    1. The attitude of people should be changed by
    (a) better education
    (b) teaching importance of Moral Value
    result: attitude changes = society changes (but it is only applicable in long run).
    2. Ban the porn websites. (short term target)
    (a) It will be more than hundred thousand.
    (b) punish those who upload it.
    (c) Many rapes are committed just after seen porn videos.
    result: no one is watching porn videos = chances to happen rape is nil
    3. drunk persons in public places should be punished. (short term targets)
    result: no drunk person = every one will be gentle = committing no anti-socio activities.
    4. Encourage women to ware good dress (short term targets)
    result: women with good dress = no tendency to commit rape.

    For short time targets we should “DO TODAY”
    For long term targets we should “START TODAY”
    Don’t wait for Leaders DO ALONE.

    • http://www.tehelka.com Kiran Manral

      I agree with your first point. Point 2, 3 and 4 are debatable. Point 4 specifically, we have infants and geriatrics and women in burkhas and salwar kameezes being raped everyday. Rape is not about clothes but a crime of opportunity and power and control. As well as the thought that the perpetrator can get away with it. Let’s stop trying to pin the blame on ‘dress’ instead of telling men to ‘stop raping’. But thank you for your opinions. –K

  • http://Website Aftab


    As a doctor in the field of Surgery/Urology, I can assure you that castration in any form, be it chemical or surgical would not work. This is because of the following reasons:

    1. The mechanism for human male “erectile function” is dependent on Neuro-Hormonal mechanisms. Chemical castration only suppresses the hormonal component(and not completely).

    The Neural mechanism is enough to attain a penile erectile response that would be adequate for penetration and or ejaculation.

    2. Compliance to ensure that the target “person” takes the medications cannot be guaranteed, unless force is applied.

    3.Chemical castration can be neutralized with over the counter testosterone therapy.

    4. The same applies for surgical castration, it does not affect the target male’s ability to sustain a penile erection which can effectively succeed in penetration and ejaculation. Over the counter hormonal medications again can help the man.

    From a medical perspective the only two ways of ensuring celibacy are the following:

    1. Voulantary abstinence.

    2. Forced abstinence via a surgical procedure which is
    “TOTAL PENILE AMPUTATION” on the target male.

    I hope you find this information useful, I do apologize for this graphic representation, but it is written without prejudice.
    It’s purpose is only to provide relevant information from a medical perspective.

    Take care and have a great day

    Best regards


    • http://Website Kiran Manral

      Thank you for the information, I had googled this up and was counting on enforced administration of medication given I assumed the perpetrators would be in custody. –K

  • http://Website respectforwomen

    awesome article…

    • http://Website Kiran Manral


  • http://Website Sandeep

    Chemical castration will be a useless and frustrating exercise. The culprits will bribe those who are to administer the injections and get away.

    • http://Website Kiran Manral

      Not if they are in custody and need to be compulsorily given the injections one hopes. –K

  • http://Website Arun Guha

    Easiest and most effective solution without the death sentence is to blind the criminal. That way he can never harm anyone ever again!

  • http://Website Tony

    Kiran like you were telling, rape is a crime of opportunity and opportunism is rather an original sin which each of us carries. I don’t believe punishment is ever an answer. Even if you say that it is to set an example, it won’t work and we had way harder punishments in the olden day.
    What we need is fundamental changes in our perceptions. It needs to begin from children; they should be bought up, taught to respect and honour. Every person, no matter men or women, rich or poor should morally assume this responsibility and take it as their personal failure, if their offspring’s do so. We call ourselves civilised, yet our eyes or on what other have.

    • http://Website Spit_the_shit_that_media_feeds

      At least somebody understands…

      Why can’t there be more people like you?

  • http://Website Spit_the_shit_that_media_feeds

    Just cause somebody had sex without permission, you want to castrate him? Do you have any idea the kind of emotional and physical attachment a man has to his genitals? If you think rapes can be stopped by castration, you are a fool. Suppose a man rapes someone. Now he knows that he is going to be castrated if he is caught. What is he going to do? He will mutilate the victim’s genitals. It’s “justice” in his eyes. Even if the culprit somehow spares the victim, once he is castrated, he is going to hunt the victim down and impart “justice”. Death sentence and castration can never be a deterrent for rape. Besides, young men and male children are frequently raped. Our country does not even have laws for it. Nobody even talks about it including the victim. You think women become targets of social stigma? Try being a male rape victim. What happens when a vengeful woman accuses someone of false rape? Thanks to our prejudiced nation, the accused is assumed to be guilty until proven innocent.

  • Pingback: v6tfmijbtfvxerxse

  • http://Website sushant

    I admire u to write such good thing in this blog. u tried to focus on the all the aspects of socity.but it can be happed u will not agree witth me.but I also wanna express my thoughts.I think that capital punishment will not take place because if the culprait knows that he is sure to hanged till death then he will immediatly kill the victum. so that u will lose main & some cases the only eye vitness of the rape.the can kill the victum that can be. a child girl women or a friend of her. and we have to do some changes & make stronger education system moraly by theory & practicals. every crime can be controlled by education & stopped to very less in numbers.

    & for the question of dressing of girls, only the parents have the right to decide what they will wear or not . i want to rite more but I have to go to sleep. its too late in night.. ok.