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First death sentences handed down in India for rape convictions

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The first death sentences under India’s tough new rape sentencing guidelines were imposed on April 4 in Mumbai as three Indian males received death sentences for their parts in the gang rapes of a Mumbai photojournalist and another woman last summer.

The New York Times shared the nuances of the new law, which states that “repeat offenders must be sentenced to a minimum of life in prison, and may also be given the death penalty.”

Regarding today's sentencing:

“It was rape executed in the most gruesome and diabolical manner without showing any mercy,” said Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi during the sentencing.

“There should be zero tolerance towards sexual offenses of this kind.”

Those receiving death sentences today were Mohammed Kasim Sheikh, Salim Ansari and Vijay Jadhav.

All three were found guilty of raping not only the photojournalist in Mumbai last August, but were also convicted of raping a call center worker last July.

Public protests and uprisings took center stage in India beginning in 2012 as gang rapes by Indian men seemed rampant throughout parts of the country. Although the general population welcomes the new rape law passed last year in India, not everyone there supports the new law and its implementation.

“I think these penalty provisions need to be reconsidered,” said Renuka Singh, a sociologist at Jawaharlal Nehru University. “The purpose is to reform these people, not eliminate them.”

The three men that were sentenced today reportedly and “repeatedly attacked women who wandered into an abandoned mill in Mumbai.”

The mother of one of the assailants yelled out in court today after her son was sentenced to death, and blamed not only his cohorts in crime for her son’s woes – but the victim of the gang rape.

“My son is being hanged because he made the wrong friends,” she said, as policewomen escorted her from the courtroom.

“It is also the woman’s fault. Who asked her to go to an abandoned area? Why don’t you hang her too?”

At the sentencing hearing today, the judge said of the three assailants, “They have used the most powerful weapon in their possession — the penis, with which they have caused grievous injuries.”

For more on the case of the Mumbai photojournalist gang rape, see the video accompanying this article.

Also see:

Indian police detain 20 men in connection with gang rape of Swiss woman

Arrests made in the gang rape of Swiss woman cycling in India

Indian police searching for men who raped and killed 3 young sisters aged 5-11

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