Four men convicted of a brutal gang rape and murder were sentenced Friday to die by hanging, a decision met with satisfaction on the part of the victim’s parents and triumphant cheers from the crowd outside the courthouse, where some held up makeshift nooses and pictures of hanging bodies.
The four men — a fruit vendor, a bus attendant, a gym handyman and an unemployed man — were found guilty on Tuesday of raping a young woman on a moving bus last December, penetrating her with a metal rod and inflicting grave internal injuries, then dumping her on the roadside.
Defense arguments were drowned out by cries for execution — including from the victim herself, who before her death told a court official that her attackers “should be burned alive.” Protesters have congregated regularly outside the courthouse, chanting “Hang the rapists,” and on Friday they turned their wrath on the defense lawyers, forcing one to rush from the crowd.
I have strong emotions and zero tolerance for rape/sexual assault. I understand all too well the emotions in this case.
I am confounded by the sentence.
Will the death of these four men stop the rape of women in India? I fear not. Obviously, it will stop those four men from raping again.
Is that enough?
Are rapists able to reform in prison? Do prison sentences for rape act as a deterrent to rape?
Statistics here do not bear out that hope.
How much of what punishment is enough for rape?
On friend on FaceBook wrote:
"Furthermore, how can death for these rapists achieve a reform of something deeply ingrained in Indian society (and, I should add, ours as well)? Could it carry enough symbolic weight to force their society (and ours) to face itself regarding its regard for and treatment of women?John Claypool in his book, Mending The Heart.
Women all over the world - India and Uganda and the United States and Mexico and Sri Lanka and South Africa and Russia - want deep and abiding change. How do we make that happen when a patriarchal court condemns four rapists to die to make examples out of them but does not fundamentally change in the ways that it sees women (here seen as the victim of male aggression)?"
Claypool offers three meditations which speak eloquently of the wounds all of us carry through life—the wounds of grievance, guilt, and grief—and how they can be healed. The wound of grievance comes from our suffering at the hands of others, we are pierced by guilt when we inflict pain in return, and we suffer grief when we are hurt by loss.
In his meditation "The Wound of Grievance," Claypool offers a powerful story about mending the heart of a man and the community in which he lived which was torn by greed and racism.
"Years ago, I saw an old movie entitled “Stars in My Crown” about the life of a nineteenth-century Methodist circuit rider on the American frontier. An elderly black man who lived in the little community that the circuit rider served was on of its most beloved members, for he had taught a whole generation of children to hunt and fish and enthralled them with his gift of storytelling.
It so happened that a valuable deposit of copper was found in that community and it ran straight under the little parcel of land on which the old man lived. When several local business leaders cane and offered to buy the black man’s property, however, he refused – it was the only home he had ever known and all he wanted to do was to live our his life there in peace.Naturally, his refusal threatened the whole mining enterprise, and when a great deal of money is at stake, dispositions have a way of growing surly. When the business leaders could not buy out the old man, they resorted to intimidation, posting a note on the door that if he was not off the property by sundown the next night, then members of the local Ku Klux Klan would com and hang him from the nearest tree.The local minister got wind of what was happening, and the next night he was there at the house with the old man when the hooded figures arrived. He told them his friend knew full well that they had come to take his life, and had asked him to prepare a will to read to them before they hung him.
John ClaypoolThe old man willed the property to the businessmen who seemed to want it so badly, some of whom were standing right there in the lynching mob. He went on to leave his rifle to another person, his fishing rod to a third, and son on down the line, lovingly relinquishing everything he had to those who had come to take his life.The impact of this act of goodness in response to evil was more than even those greedy hearts could stand. One by one, in shameful silence, they turned away and slipped into the darkness.
The minister’s grandson, at the time a twelve-year-old boy, had watched the whole drama from afar and when it was over he bounded up the porch and said to his grandfather wonderingly, “What kind of will was that?” The old minister answered softly, “The will of God, son, the will of God.”