He raped Jyoti Singh and left her to die. Now he's being released after just three years.


Six men brutally raped Jyoti Singh and left her to die.

The 23-year-old student died in hospital from her horrific injuries and her attackers were jailed.

This rape was incredibly brutal. Singh was a student in New Delhi. She got on a bus one night with a male friend and the other passengers, all men, raped her. She was attacked so brutally that her injuries later killed her.

Her companion was beaten for trying to stop it.

Singh’s case electrified India, and was the catalyst for a broad discussion about attitudes towards women. The men were tried and convicted. Four face the death penalty, one hanged himself in jail.

But one was 17 when he raped Singh, and now the Indian justice system says he must be released, having served the maximum sentence the court was able to impose upon him at the time of his conviction.

He walks free this week, despite appeals to the Delhi High Court, and a potential Supreme Court appeal. The news has brought a fresh round of protests.

We can be frustrated and disappointed about this, and it’s no surprise that we feel outraged that someone who police say pulled Singh’s intestines out with his bare hands during the attack will be set free.

I feel all those things.

The question we should be asking now though is how do we make sure this kind of crime doesn’t happen again?

The answer is not as simple as just locking up the one offender. It requires deep cultural change, not just in India but around the world.

The Indian public reacted passionately to what had happened to Singh. Following massive protests and a huge public outcry, laws have changed and penalties for rape and sexual offences have increased.

Changes have been made specifically to address the issue of sentencing. And while it is perhaps easy to single out this one attack as something out of the ordinary, particularly heinous, and carried out by people who are seen as something not human, the truth is less straightforward.


The truth is rape and violence against women are insidious, everyday occurrences around the globe. In India, a rape is reported to police every 20 minutes.

After Singh died, police say rape reporting increased significantly in 2013. But it has apparently fallen away again, as public outrage moves on.

We should all mourn Jyoti Singh, and condemn the actions of her attackers. We should all want a world where violence like that is an anomaly, not an everyday occurrence.

Since Singh’s death in 2012, countless women around the world have been raped and murdered. The vast majority at the hands of people known to them. Some have been kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery, some have been forced into marriages while children, some have been stoned to death for perceived indiscretions.

Violence against women takes many forms, and it is intimate, personal and ingrained. Wherever we see it we must stand up against it, we must raise our voices and ask for better from our legislators and our politicians.

Singh’s parents have not stopped pushing for change. They have spoken out repeatedly seeking justice for their daughter. They have pushed for changes to the law, and took the step last week of naming her publicly for the first time.

They are fighting for justice for their daughter, and like the friends and family of Alison Baden-Clay, they are challenging the long-held assumptions about women and violence.

Not every fight like this will be successful, and in the case of Singh’s 17-year-old attacker, it looks as though there is little more that can be done.

But no matter the outcome, these campaigns are important and powerful.

We must always fight back. And we must never forget that women like Jyoti Singh were tortured, raped and murdered just because they were women.