Much ado about justice

By Sneha Bhavadasan

The reports about an eight-year-old girl who was brutally raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir, have not startled me. I found no news in them because such incidents have become routine in today’s India.

As usual everyone reacted to the crime on social media and demanded justice for the Jammu girl.

I found many of hash tags #justiceforasifa #killthem and so on. But what their creators have done is to replace an earlier victim’s name with the new one.

For my amusement, I typed #justicefor in my Instagram and got many options. When I checked the dates of those posts they were less than a month old. Within a month at least of three hash tags appeared in India asking for justice. Isn’t it fun like the meme creators do? Make hash tags, lash out through social media, and scream at the top of your voice for justice until another news item draws your attention. Don’t you feel so? I do.

There is a proverb “Action speaks louder than words.” Each crime against women evokes calls for candlelight march and strike. But how effective are they? Has our society changed a wee bit? Has our society taken any step to protect women and girls after that earth shattering cry over justice for Nirbhaya more than five years ago? Did that horrendous crime really touch our society’s heart?

Men continue to rape and torture women without any qualm because they know there is little chance of them getting punished for the crime. On the contrary, the law and administration seem to go out of their way to protect the culprit and care for him.

It’s quite evident from the report of murder of an 11-year-old girl in Surat, Gujarat. She was raped for eight days before getting murdered. This happened when the whole nation seethed in outrage over the gruesome rape and murder of the eight year girl in Jammu.

I wish the marches and strikes had really sent shudders down the spine of those even remotely thinking of abusing a women. But the protests only seem to have emboldened the rapists, giving them new ideas.

I don’t think the problem is with the law enforcing agencies and bureaucrats. The problem is with us, our ignorance about our powers and rights. Martin Luther King once said, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

Yes it’s true we are not really aware of what we are capable of doing other than protesting over religion issues and engaging in political games. Although India became a democratic and sovereign nation after it won freedom in 1947, its citizens continue to believe that they are mere subjects of a monarchy to be ruled by civil servants.

Problem also lies with the way we look at our representatives in parliament and legislative assemblies. The supreme power in a democracy lies with its people. They elect their representatives to serve them, not to rule them.

But what is the reality? We are afraid of our own elected servants. We have given them undue powers because our Constitution has no provision to throw them out or withdraw them before their term ends. This has reduced India’s democratic republic to just one day in a year – January 26. The rest of year, it is a land ruled by affluent criminals and deceitful public servants.

The only power we have is to vote, but it is a great power indeed. Why can’t we use our power for a change? We can collective refuse to vote. We can shun all political parties as they have proved to be good for nothing. All they are interested is to fill their pockets.

Let us demand amendment to our rules so that we can effectively protect our women and girls and all the weak. Instead of holding a placard declaring our shame over the happenings in India, let us become bold enough to declare that we will not vote until every victim of rape and torture gets justice. The next victim could be your child or relative. It is time we acted through concrete actions. If we believe in our power none can stand in our way.

We, the common people, outnumber the criminals and fraudsters thousand times. If we join hands for a common cause, the government will have no other option, but to listen to us. Remember, “Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.”

So let’s resolve not to cast vote in elections until our lawmakers honestly introduce harsh and instant punishments for rapists and anyone who tries to abuse or molest a person physically or mentally. Such laws should not ask for proofs or evidences. Instead, they should be imposed even on the basis of a verbal statement of the victim.

Let’s change the phrase, “Let the 100 culprits go free, no innocent should be convicted,” to “Let 100 innocents get punished, but no culprit should go free.”

Let us, for a change, keep aside our placards and stop shouting for justice and, instead, work for a real crime-free world.

[Sneha Bhavadasan is studying post graduate diploma in banking and finance. She lives in Thrissur, Kerala.)

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