TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains mention of rape, sexual assault and/or violence.
The irony is that we live in a society that preaches ethics and lauds the contrary. The Hyderabad gang-rape and murder baffled the country, and the police encounter which followed tells about what happens when ethics and justice don’t deliver what they were meant for. Read on to find the divided opinions about it.
The whole was nation was outraged by the horrific gang-rape and murder of the 26-year-old veterinary doctor in Hyderabad. The public outcry was similar when the Nirbhaya gang-rape happened. And it is the same sentimental response when such incidents happen every single time. However, there is hardly any difference when it comes to women’s safety earlier and now. And by the time you finish reading this article, another similar incident might have occurred. The only difference being that some get reported and drive the heated response while some don’t, and then everything goes back to normal. The only thing which changes is that a woman gets more scared of being a woman.
The brutal gang-rape and murder in Hyderabad just exemplifies the situation of how things go wrong when the burden of women’s safety is laid on women, rather than targeting the root cause. And what ensued was mere hypocrisy of the society which preaches Natural Justice. The police encounter of the accused rapists violated not only violated legal realms, but also the ethical principles on which idea of India was based on. However, there were two sides of the coin which needed to be understood before we make a normative judgement.
Niharika Dabral, the former Associate Editor of DU Beat highlighted, “The incident has all signs of a fake encounter and it’s not justice. The police were pulling a Bollywood hero move just to distract people from its own callousness that might have prevented the tragic murder in the first place. We, as a society, still have primitive blood-thirst and one must evolve over it otherwise there is no difference between us and the criminals. The public will always ask for public execution and might even applaud these moves, but the state has to be more responsible with how it uses its power and as feminist we must not forget the real issues.”
Democracy differentiates itself from majoritarianism by virtue of certain individual and group rights it commits itself to. The will of a temporary majority cannot breach those rights. To secure those rights, certain institutions and institutional mechanisms are integral to democracy. However, when these institutions fail in their role, the fundamental reasoning behind the whole argument fails.
Avni Dhawan, from Kamala Nehru College, said, “There’s nothing wrong with having sentiments and feeling angry. It’s been years of sitting helplessly and blaming the judicial system. And I think there’s a quite thick line between justified actions and justice. There had to come to a point where one crosses the line given the situation in the country. You talk about how this isn’t any solution to the future rape cases, but years of court’s order and our laws couldn’t put a stop to it either.” The rape survivor in Unnao was burnt alive while she was demanding justice, through apt channels. And this shows how the whole premise of ethics and justice dissolve when they don’t deliver what they were meant for.
On the other hand, Faizan Salik commented, “In this case, public sentiments narrativized media, which acted as a pressure group, but what followed it was absolutely unconstitutional, from here the case is just not about the crime but how the legal action prompted.”
Today’s society is a world where lynching and blood-thirst have become common parlance. In light of the encounter, the four accused rapists were not influential, rich or belonged to the upper section of the society and thus became an easy target of the “justice” carried out by the police. Would such justice be carried out with the affluent and privileged sections of the society? It would be a very short-sighted view to hail the police encounter if one really cares about women’s safety. The root cause of the issue has not been targeted. If institutions were in place working efficiently, the story could have been different altogether. If we forget the foundation of a progressive society which we all aspire for, we can’t give an excuse like this one for not adhering to it.
Featured Image Credits: The Hindu