Saturday 22 December 2012

Opinion: It's a Dress, NOT a YES

A crime beneath contempt
The focus went to India this week with protests against the gang-rape of a lady of 23 by six presumably drunken men on a bus as punishment for being out in the evening with a man.
She was repeated raped, beaten with rods and thrown off the bus, her companion was also attacked but that lady presently fights for her life.
There are many strands to this story that cannot be dealt with in the strictures of a blog; the cultural, the traditional, the economic, the social and the religious issues are myriad.
No excuse
However, there is one clear narrative that should be declared unassailable all around the globe - that there is no excuse acceptable in humanity and most especially in the 21st Century that warrants the violation of another human-being in pursuit of some warped notion of deterrence or meting out of punishments to set society to rights.
In the first instance, drunkenness cannot  and must not excuse criminality, it is within the capabilities of people to control their use of alcoholic beverages and moderate the anti-social influences that might result from inebriation.
There is no reason for people to act in mob packs like animals, each one of those men should have and must have known that what they were doing was at first wrong and at best criminal but they might have for some sense of impunity assumed they could get away with their reprehensible acts.
Nothing corrective in rape
The strange entitlement syndrome that allows men to act as if there are society’s female policeman with the right to prejudge, accuse, charge, convict and punish our womenfolk is not only evident in what happened in India, it is pervasive all around the globe in the use of rape as a weapon of war, for the absurd correction of sexual preferences, for Neanderthal gratification without retribution and even for exacting an atrocious societal norm.
There is nothing corrective in rape and there is nothing whatsoever that can place rape in the ambit of anything legally justifiable under any circumstances, no matter how sententious you want to be.
The strange of strangers
That it could be a complete stranger’s business who a lady decides to go out with at any time of the day is bizarre on the face of it.
That the stranger will then act to not just challenge the lady but violate her as if they are acting in the office of society’s disciplinarian for moral infractions beggars belief in the extreme but we see this in too many places and society has been lethargic in rising up against these patently human rights violations.
Even in Nigeria
In the capital city of Nigeria, Abuja, the Abuja Environmental Protection Board has taken on the vile task of corralling any female found in town after a certain hour and branding them prostitutes.
A government organisation suddenly turned vice-squad and moral police that would shame even extreme religious fundamentalists with their egregious abuse of woman rights on the premise that they are keeping the city clean.
Even so
There is no doubt that we all want some standard of morals and modesty on our streets but it is not a licence to exact punitive measures outside the law and in violation of human rights because someone does not conform to our moral standards or prejudicial interpretations of religious texts to dehumanise, persecute, prosecute and censure others.
There is still a principle to abide by – Live and let live.
Remember this
In ending, I remember watching the news yesterday and two placards stood out in the Indian protests.
It’s a dress, not a Yes – This is probably the most succinct protest against rape under the excuse of supposedly indecent dressing.
Don’t teach our girls how to dress, teach our boys not to rape – I will rewrite that in a most categorical declaration – Teach our boys never to rape, whatever the circumstances.

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