Ensuring the currency of a rapist’s life

The fact that Singh committed suicide, underlines that India,is not serious about protecting its women.


Shahid Mahmood March 13, 2013
The writer is a Canada-based editorial cartoonist and his work has appeared in several international publications

We are living in a time of leveraged credit and distressed debt. Financially weak institutions own a large proportion of our riskiest assets. A volatile market has erased the savings of millions. Stabilising both market and employment sectors was a crucial election platform for both candidates in this past presidential election in the United States. It was in this environment that Bernie Madoff carried about the largest financial fraud in US history.

Madoff is being held at a super-max federal prison. The prison lights are never turned off, while the inmate’s movements are continuously videotaped — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Madoff shares his 64-square foot cell with one other inmate. Cell windows have been painted over while meals are slipped through a metal slit in the door. Madoff himself gets only an hour a day outside. He is serving a sentence of 150 years in prison with no chance of parole.

Over the years, Madoff and others like him have been arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Their stories serve as reminders that financial duplicity will no longer be tolerated. Movements such as Occupy Wall Street brought to the forefront the belief that bringing change to our collective priorities is attainable. It is no longer okay, at least on paper, for financiers to control the world — disproportionately benefiting the wealthy at the expense of the remaining 99 per cent. Incarcerating Madoff, monitoring him and keeping him alive was a priority of the state. By ensuring Madoff lived and did not commit suicide, the state prioritised the importance of his trial and sentencing — showing American intent that no one is above financial fraud.

This week, Ram Singh, from the Delhi gang-rape case, committed suicide. He was one of the individuals accused in a high profile rape and murder case that took place last December in India. A young woman was beaten and gang-raped aboard a bus by five adult males including Singh, the bus driver. The men proceeded to pin her down, strip her and beat her with an iron rod, repeatedly violating her with the rod and causing considerable internal injuries that eventually killed her. In the wake of this girl’s death, a commission issued a 630-page report. The report blamed the police, the courts, successive governments and societal attitudes for allowing such sexual violence to prevail in India. A woman is raped every 15 minutes in India, so many in India have welcomed this 630-page report and its many recommendations.

But the reality is that the state was blindsided by the force of the public’s reaction to this rape. In its raw emotion, the state was forced to produce a report. And in its haste, a critical question was never asked, “Why is sexual violence so prevalent in India?” Ranjana Kumari, a prominent women’s rights activist, is doubtful regarding the political will to implement any true reform. She said, “the key ministries and the police sent low-level clerks to the commission’s hearings (when drafting the report). What signal does that send? The government may act on the easiest recommendations but nothing more.”

Singh should be alive, his story told, immortalised as a rapist’s testimony. The state should have done everything to keep him alive so he could stand trial. The fact that Singh committed suicide, underlines that India, like many other countries, is not serious about protecting its women. Frederick Douglas, the great social reformer and feminist, once said, “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organised conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2013.

COMMENTS (11)

amoghavarsha.ii | 8 years ago | Reply

@Ram, Intelect, cultural enligtenment, in the government ..........of all places????? only valid sentence in your outburst is .......The government, nay the State, we form is a reflection of WHO we are........ There were atleast 1000+ saints/spiritual guides/sanyasis/social activists/social changers/ what not.....to help improve the society. still 2012 there was a rape, which was made an example to "awaken" the government, after this there were more rapes in same city and across the country. And you blame only government, men in government, men in power???? you say indian state is still immature???because there was a rape of a women.... so which government or state in the world will be mature by your barometer.... Rape is simply HIGH CALIBRE crime against women. Because the person raping is basically uncotrolled, inferior animal, who has lost sense of who he is. This requires High Calibre response NOT from GOVT/POLICE/MEN. This requires High Calibre response from WOMEN (starting from mothers, sisters, wives, friends, colleagues). First do not wait even for a second to react/rebel against a slightest illtreatment (start with illtreatment itself, don't have to wait for something bigger to happen) Never allow anybody ( men or women ) to take you for granted. If you check statistics most crimes on women are comitted by women. So do not differentiate crime against women on gender of preparator.

Crime like RAPE cannot be stopped by any government/anypolice/anyarmy..... only change in mindset of person....that change will not come from saints/armies it comes from your response.

Gp65 | 8 years ago | Reply

@Ram: I am an Indian woman. I have lived in Delhi and also in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore as well. Even on ET Indian men and and women alike have agreed that Delhi is much more problematic for women than the cities in west or south and I certainly agree. But the response to this particular rape appears to have started a process of churning even in the Delhi men which is to be welcomed.

Secondly, the author's conclusions are not justified. This suicide neither proves nor disproves the point that the author says it does. All it proves is that prison conditions in India are not so good - a fact that few would deny. Nor does anyone think that the current state of affairs is optimal. But then conditions in slums are not that great either. I would rather have the government spend more money I mproving lives of people in slums before it gets around to do that for people in prison. In the end there is a funds constraint and money has to be prioritized.

I did not find any chauvinism in the men who posted comments here, they were as baffled as me about how the author drew the conclusion he did based on the incident. I do not think any of them defended the fact that violence against women is high in Delhi. So what have they said that contradicts Kiran Bedi? Secondly, where do you get off passing fatwas against everyone who disagrees with you as being parochial and defensive. When did they defend rape?

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