The struggle for Indian women to find justice after sexual assault is erupting into violence. After the horrific gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old New Dehli student, the country feels like a bed of dry tinder, ready to burst into flames. And a politician accused of rape was just enough to incite public violence.
Bikram Singh Brahma, a member of the Congress Party in Assam and president of a district Congress committee in the state, was arrested for rape. He was staying in a family’s home when the alleged crime took place. The rape was reported to the police by the woman’s husband. After news of the charges were made public, the man was attacked by a crowd of women.
Women hit the man and stripped off his clothes. Men in the crowd joined in the beating, striking Brahma and pushing him around.
In some ways, it is empowering to see that the people of India are standing up against these horrible crimes. They are demanding that their legal and justice systems take rape seriously. It is an incredibly powerful movement, and one can understand that emotions are extremely high.
At the same time, calls for the blood of those that are committing these crimes are still calls for violence, and they’re difficult to support. I want to see men who commit these heinous crimes pay for their actions. I want to see them locked away in jail where they can no longer hurt anyone.
But can we ever really support the public beating of a man whose crime has not been proven by a huge mass of people? Is that really justice?
It is not just the Indian people who are calling for violence against those who rape women. Here in the United States, the terrible case of a young girl raped in Steubenville, Ohio has caused an enormous amount of controversy and ignited emotional responses from many. Our own commenters have shared hopes that the boys who allegedly raped an unconscious classmate get the death penalty, or that they themselves are raped while serving prison sentences.
It’s a natural reaction, to wish pain on those that cause it. Especially when we feel powerless to get justice, it makes sense that these people would want to take matters into their own hands.
The only positive aspect I see in Mr. Brahma’s public shaming and beating is that men and women in India are coming together to fight against this cultural disgrace, where women are not safe to walk around alone in public. Together, the people of India are demanding more accountability for those who perpetuate violence against women. That, in and of itself, is inspiring.
Now let’s hope that the legal system in India can find a way to do it’s job and administer justice, so that mobs of people don’t have to result to their most desperate measures to keep women safe.