Honor Among Thieves!

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Human violence is fast becoming a global epidemic. All over the world, police face angry mobs, terrorists disrupt the Olympics, hijackers seize airplanes, and bombs wreck buildings.

Off late the ugly face of human violence in the form of sexual violence seems to be on the rise with each passing day. Rape is one of the most heinous crimes committed by one human to control, dominate and force the other to do their own will. In South Africa a woman is assaulted every 23 seconds. Statistics from 2000 showed that on average a woman is raped every hour in India. Women’s groups attest that the strict and conservative attitudes about sex and family privacy contribute to ineffectiveness of India’s rape laws. Victims are often reluctant to report rape. In an open court, victims must prove that the rapist sexually penetrated them in order to get a conviction. This can be especially damaging. After proving that she has been raped, a victim is often ostracized from her family and community. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that rape laws are inadequate and definitions so narrow that prosecution is made difficult.

Who are we to blame for this? Like some fanatics state “Women are the cause for rise in sexual violence due to the way they dress and provoke men!” If we were to go by the fundamental beliefs of these fanatics then we women need to walk around in Burkhas and make sure that we do not “expose” any part of our body to perverts. This should also make the Indian Cinema Censor Board to think about releasing films such as Khwaish, Murder and all those B grade movies with the likes of Mallika Sherawat and the Rakhi Sawant’s flaunting their flesh on the big silver screen for all to see.

The victims of sexual violence are not those who are ready to bare and dare it all for fame and fortune on the big silver screen, but are those women who do not go about flaunting their flesh for all to see.

….Matters are hushed up after the crime has been committed with the victim many times facing the verdict that she willingly consented to this act of sexual violence….

The most recent case of rape was that of Imrana, a mother of five hailing from Uttar Pradesh in the north of India. By what was shown about Imrana on TV, I did not find a half-naked Ms. Sherawat in her but a fully clothed woman wearing a black burkha! She was raped by her father-in-law. A man in whom Imrana saw a father figure and never once thought she would be a piece of flesh for a hungry lion!

You must be wondering as to what is so different about this rape case. These things happen all over the world all the time. Matters are hushed up after the crime has been committed with the victim many times facing the verdict that she willingly consented to this act of sexual violence. Imrana?s case is no different from the rest. The act of violence is the same. However, the criminal is her father-in-law.

What caught my interest when reading and seeing Imrana?s case unfold on TV is the conclusion drawn by these fanatics and in Imrana’s, case it was the village panchayat or Mufti’s that they call themselves who made up their own law for Imrana to live by.

Imrana was raped and these Muftis decide that she no longer can stay married to her husband. Her children will be in the custody of her husband. (As if she was raped by mutual consent). Her father-in-law now becomes her husband (because he raped her), and her husband now becomes her son! (Because his father raped her).

First a woman is raped and robbed of her dignity, her very existence, then these thieves (rapists) get away by willing to marry their victims! What an honor indeed!

Babul Khan should have been in prison for raping a 14-year-old girl, his neighbour in southern Bangladesh. Instead, the 26-year-old man became the husband of his victim. Village elders forced the girl to marry his attacker. The elders considered the settlement the best they could to punish the attacker and reward the victim. For Babul, the marriage was a gift and way out of jail.

Babul wanted to marry the girl, who was considered the prettiest at her village in Patuakhali district. In spite of being poor, the girl and her family resisted the marriage proposal from Babul. The man took the rejection as an insult. He vowed to take revenge. The revenge came in the form of a sexual assault on the girl. Babul fled his village after the incident in August last year. Police investigated the rape allegation filed by the girl’s family and charged Babul with rape violence while he was still in hiding.

Month’s later Babul was arrested during the Operation Clean Heart by the joint forces. But as the army prepared to send Babul to jail elders from his village intervened. The village elders promised to punish Babul. The army agreed to let him go. The girl’s family was too poor and weak to reject the elders. He gave in to their pressure and persuaded her daughter to accept her rapist as the husband.
“What an irony! How can I live a happy life? Thundered the girl. She spoke for many such Bangladeshi girls and women who are forced to marry their tormentors. Some of those who control the society are responsible for such odd marriages. Another northern village girl suffered a similar attack in 2001. She was also forced to marry her rapist and the arbitrators thought they saved the girl from humiliation and even death.

The country’s law has provided for trial and punishment for such violence against women. Rape offenders face up to life term in jail in Bangladesh. But KANGAROO courts set up by village elders often help the offenders escape trial by a court of law and evade punishment.

This seems to have become an easy way out for most rapists. Every second rape victim in our country is given this option. And, what an option it is by our so-called honorable judicial system.

A criminal has to be punished for his crime. Marriage is definitely not punishment for a rapist. The only ideal and apt punishment for such a heinous crime as a rape should be castration by law. This will not only teach the criminal a lesson but shall also serve as a good warning to other perverts. This is my say. What do you have to say my friends to this?

Author: Ramona Pereira- UAE

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