lawyersThe world is watching as New Delhi begins the legal proceedings trying five men and one teenager for the brutal gang rape and murder of 23-year-old student, Jyoti Singh Pandey. But while almost everyone has been quick to condemn this malicious and disturbing attack, plenty of people forgot that for the legal process to work, someone have to stand up for the accused. Some lawyer had to agree to defend these men. We should all be thankful that two Indian attorneys have stepped up to the challenge.

While the majority of the lawyers in the area refused to get involved in a case that has sparked so much outrage, two brave men have stepped up to the task. V. K. Anand and Manohar Lal Sharma volunteered their services for the men accused of raping and murdering Pandey. Three of the accused have accepted their offer and will be represented by the team in the upcoming hearings. Two other men have not yet asked for legal counsel.

It is easy to criticize and condemn these men for representing such vile defendants. Our initial reaction is to loathe anyone who wants to help rapists and murders. But the sad fact of the matter is that these defense attorneys are necessary. They have to do their best work and attempt to tell the defendants’ side of the story. If lawyers don’t step up and represent the accused, these men could go free, they could win appeals years from now and be back on the streets.

By doing their job and defending this me, V.K. Anand and Manohar Lal Sharma are helping the cause of justice. And we should all thank them for that.

I do not make this statement lightly. My family recently went through a murder trial where a loved one was taken from us too soon and in a brutal, heart-wrenching fashion. Sitting in that court room, it was incredibly difficult to feel anything but contempt for the lawyers representing that killer. It took strength and will power to keep our mouths shut while these attorneys belittled and exploited our suffering.

At the same time, the prosecuting attorneys were extremely clear, “You want a solid, enthusiastic defense. You do not want any excuse for this person to appeal their ruling a decade from now.” Those lawyers were infuriating, but their dedication to their job saves us from future drama ad heartache.

All those who want justice for Jyoti and victims like her need to be thankful for these defense attorneys that are willing to take on difficult and emotional cases. We cannot condemn these lawyers for doing what no human being really wants to do, aligning themselves with some of the most despicable criminals in the world. These attorneys are doing what has to be done. They are helping to build a justice system that is hopefully strong enough to keep more women safe from sexual violence in the future.

(Photo: Mariusz Szczygiel/Shutterstock)