Advocates for juvenile criminal rights and his reform: Will you open your home to him?

High-minded liberal advocates versus real, gut-wrenching emotion. Mob pressure or citizens' activism?

ByMadhu Trehan
Advocates for juvenile criminal rights and his reform: Will you open your home to him?
  • whatsapp
  • copy

This is personal. It is about a personal struggle. HH the Dalai Lama has said, “True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Because of this firm foundation, a truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively. Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations, but rather on the needs of the other: irrespective of whether another person is a close friend or an enemy, as long as that person wishes for peace and happiness and wishes to overcome suffering, then on that basis we develop genuine concern for their problem. This is genuine compassion. For a Buddhist practitioner, the goal is to develop this genuine compassion, this genuine wish for the well-being of another, in fact for every living being throughout the universe.”

I feel no compassion for the former juvenile rapist. As much as I try to work it up, the only thing that comes to mind is a fantasy of wearing a mask and shooting him. When I read a beautifully written story by The Indian Express reporter Pritha Chatterjee about his poverty-ridden family, yes, I understood his frustration and desperation. Understanding but no compassion.

Since Jyoti Singh has been identified by her mother but called Nirbhaya earlier, I want to call the rapist Jaanwar. I know his name. I want to publish it. This was shot down by a sensible colleague. I even thought I would make a puzzle in the article where all the capital letters in the first paragraph would spell his name. (But Madhu Kishwar has already tweeted his name.) Do I really want a mob to go and lynch him? No. That would give him the power of making us like him. But why should Jaanwar’s name and picture not be plastered all over India? Should the public not know who to protect themselves from? What if Jaanwar is working in the same place as your daughter? Could his rage surface again?

On Barkha Dutt’s programme Shireen Vakil Miller, Director, Advocacy, Tata Trusts, said, Members of Parliament and policy makers have bowed down to mob pressure.  Barkha contradicted her as did Babul Supriyo, Member of State Urban Development, who added that Parliamentarians represent the people and they must be sensitive to them. Supriyo pointedly asked Miller what she wanted. After getting a confused answer, he asked her again.  Miller replied she wants him to get a chance to reform.

Good. Don’t we all? But how will this be done? By ill-equipped, poorly educated, government-appointed officials who will lecture him? I would expect he would smirk at them. How do you reform an alcoholic or a drug addict? Do we have systems in place that have done that? Instead of agitating to protect the criminal juvenile, why don’t they agitate to build well-staffed and equipped reform schools that could actually be effective areas for change? Yes, my views are anti-intellectual, anarchic and could be called uneducated thinking. But, if your daughter is raped and brutalised, thinking about the essentials of law, the need for space to reform, the desperate need of the removal of poverty and lack of education; and all the long-term solutions, become more than precious. Since girls as young as three continue to be raped by juveniles, such discussions seem like superficial interior decoration.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) latest 2014 report, there were 33,707 reported rape cases in the country during the year 2013. 13.1 per cent (4,427 out of 33,764) of the total victims of rape were girls under 14 years of age, while 26.3 per cent (8,877 victims out of 33,764) were teenaged girls (14–18 years). Six per cent of rapes are committed by juveniles. 70 per cent of these juveniles are committed by 16-18 year olds. Since it will take decades to implement all the high-minded, long-term goals, the only immediate solution to stop the rape epidemic is tougher sentences that are fully implemented. When this unfathomable madness hits a man, the only deterrent can be the fear that he will have to pay for it with his life.

In the United States of America, there have been umpteen cases of murderers and rapists walking free because of a biased judge and unpredictable, whimsical jury. Please read writer Dominick Dunne’s account of the trial of his daughter’s murderer where he watched the miscarriage of justice in frustration and pain.

We are not the only country grappling with the issue of juvenile crimes and repeat offenders. Have the incidents of rape suddenly gone up or are these now being reported more? We cannot accurately ever know that. Girls have always been told to bide their silence. It is certain that girls and their mothers are coming forward increasingly.

Watch Poorna Jagannathan speak about her own coming out with her story of molestation.

In this unsentimental, gut-wrenching play, Nirbhaya, all the actors were survivors of rape and assault.

Yet, it is still a struggle reporting a rape whether the pressure comes from one’s own family, society or unsympathetic police. Historically, upper-caste men believed they had a right over any woman who struck their fancy, particularly from the backward castes. Conversely now, a man who is degraded and stuck in poverty, sometimes takes his revenge on a woman who he sees as having everything he can’t have. Rape is not sex. It is violence. Calling rape sex is like calling a burglary aspirational.

There have been a few people in the TV shouting matches who have spoken passionately and sought hard to dispel “rumours” that Jaanwar was not the most brutal of the lot. It is unfathomable how the level and quality of brutality is a measurable quantity. Intellectualism and liberal intention sometimes cut off the feeling function and disregard the importance of emotion. It seems to add an air of superiority. How often do you hear, “That’s an emotional reaction. Be practical.” Rarely heard in other cultures where most often being emotional is a treasured, lauded trait. Emotional Quotient is measured in job interviews. We forget that it is emotion that triggers our most important life decisions. You cannot discount the despair that the victims go through and more so of those that are left behind. So a question must be addressed to those supporting the release of Jaanwar: would your position be the same if it was your daughter?

Would your stand of liberal compassion of respect for each life and optimism for reform override your natural emotions of anger and despair when a man who brutalised your daughter walks free? Will Shireen Vakil Miller invite Jaanwar to her home? Will she personally supervise the reforming process? Will she give him a job in her home? Or even office? So, let’s not be emotional. Let’s be practical. Let all those advocating his release and reform, let them open up their homes to Jaanwar. Please rehabilitate him personally.

Jaanwar escaped jail because of his age just by a few months. Calendars are man made. Over centuries many different calendars have been made by various cultures, including the Lunar, Mayan, Egyptian, Roman and Gregorian. The Hindu calendar is known to have the flexibility to add or subtract months according to changes in solar transit. Should a few months then decide the level of punishment regardless of the savagery of the crime?

What do I want? Send Jaanwar to jail for life. Let him reform in jail. And implement the harshest punishments on rapists and murderers. Yes, it has been often said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” but consider this: if you feared your own eye will be taken out if you took out someone else’s, perhaps you’ll think twice before touching someone else’s eye. Then, an eye for an eye will ensure that no one loses even one eye.

newslaundry logo

Pay to keep news free

Complaining about the media is easy and often justified. But hey, it’s the model that’s flawed.

You may also like