Impotent Law and Powerful Justice- Rape in Delhi, India, December 2012
We can obey the law and lose sight of justice. This is often true with a charge of rape in India. Too often it becomes a case of he said versus she said. There is also a powerful stigma attached to rape. That stigma stops many women from seeking treatment for themselves and prosecution of the rapist. Unless the rape is particularly brutal, Indian law enforcement can be lax in taking a statement, filing a complaint, gathering evidence, seeking arrest and prosecuting the crime. In India as elsewhere, it is too easy for the government to simply throw another victim on the already large pile of victims waiting for justice. The indifference of the police may be lawful, but it neither serves justice nor reduces crime. Indian men and woman can take justice into their own hands in ways that both promote peace and reduce crime.
Those issues were not a factor in the recent case of the 23 year old Physical Therapy student and her fiancé attacked in Delhi, India. This young couple was beaten and the young women gang-raped by six men. The young man was first beaten unconscious with a metal rod when the couple tried to get off a stolen bus. The young woman fought and bit her attackers. She was beaten, raped, and penetrated with a metal jack handle. Most of her intestines were torn from her abdomen. The criminals dumped the unresponsive victims off the bus and tried to run over them. The criminals then cleaned the bus trying to eliminate evidence of the beating and rape. The female victim died 13 days later. The Delhi government will prosecute these criminals because the crime was well publicized and particularly atrocious.
Thousands have protested and tens of thousands have signed petitions asking that sexual harassment be regularly prosecuted. That is fine as far as it goes, but there are better options. The law may only prosecute criminals after a crime has been committed and evidence collected. That is too seldom, too little and much too late for many. At best, the law is helpless to save the next victim. Citizens are made helpless to help themselves because the Indian government routinely denies its citizens the right of self-defense.
Disarming honest citizens does little to reduce crime. Armed citizens safeguard innocence by preventing crime, while the best that the law can do is occasionally prosecute criminals after the fact when it is too late for the unfortunate victim. Recognizing the Indian citizen’s right of self-defense allows people to defend themselves as the crime occurs, exactly as this woman did in America. Firearms allow the weak to defend themselves from the strong. Firearms allow the few to defend themselves from the many.
Indian citizens cannot secure a permit to carry firearms unless they prove an immediate threat to their lives. The young Physical Therapy student would never qualify because criminals do not strike by pre-approved appointment. The restrictive firearms policy in India enshrines police power when it is enforced. The firearms policy supports political privileges for the lucky few with connections who are granted exemptions. The policy hardly protects the next rape victim or stops the next violent crime. Indian men and women.. and even young students.. are simply not worth much in the eyes of the Indian government.
That attitude is contemptible and perhaps it will change. Indians do not condone rape, but they tolerate it by denying the very right of self-defense that is most successful in preventing sexual harassment, preventing sexual assault and preventing rape. Perhaps after this painful lesson, that will also change. Justice restores hope, not only in India, but for us all.
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