It's an incident nothing like any other.
After years of being allegedly sexually abused by a 54-year-old, self-proclaimed 'Godman', Sree Hari, a 23-year-old girl cut off his penis. This shocking incident that recently occurred in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, invited nation-wide conversation from everyone.
While the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, lauded the girl as "courageous", there were many who didn't quite agree with the girl's decision to take matters in her own hands.
In an interview, Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor spoke about how he wished the girl would have taken the matter to the police instead.
There is something gratifying about such swift justice but she would have better taken the matter to the police rather than taking the law into her own hands. I sympathise with her, as most people would. But we need a society where justice prevails, not one where every individual seeks it with a knife in her hand
However, this wasn't the first such case.
Back in 2004, when Akku Yadav, a 32-year-old rapist and murderer, was lynched by a mob of over 200 women in the Nagpur District Court, a similar conversation had come up.
Yadav was stabbed over 70 times with chilli powder and stones thrown on his face. At that time, one of the women had claimed that Yadav had been raping and abusing local women for over a decade and despite complaints, the local police refused to take any action. In 2012, Yadav's nephew, Amar Yadav, too died under similar circumstances.
And in 2014, a decade after Akku's murder, all the accused were pronounced not guilty.
Were the women in both these cases right in resorting to violence to get back at the men who allegedly wronged them? Should they have waited for the law to take its own course instead?
Frankly, who are we to decide? For someone who's been repeatedly raped and violated, over a number of years, it's impossible for us to even understand or comprehend what they went through.
That India is not a safe place for women is no big secret. Not a single day goes without news of some or the other woman, child or infant being raped, murdered, molested, eve-teased or harassed in some part of the country or another. Even on the internet, the first instinct of a man is to slut-shame a woman if she happens to have a different point of view.
In the Kerala incident, for instance, the girl never talked about her rape because she feared no one would believe her. In the Akku Yadav case, despite repeated complaints, the police never took any action because they were heavily bribed by Yadav. We're a country where marital rape is yet to be legally qualified as one. We're a nation where even the most brutal gang rapes take years in court before any decision is taken. In the case of Nirbhaya, for instance, four of the five accused were only sentenced after almost 5 years!
In such a scenario, is it surprising to see women taking the matter in their own hands?
But then, resorting to violence can't be the only possible solution either, right?
There is a constitution in place and laws are strictly defined. We can't just do what we feel is right. Because if everyone decides to pull out a gun, the society will go for a toss and everyone will have their own justifications for what they do. As Shashi Tharoor pointed out, we do need a society where justice prevails and law and order is maintained.
As the debate continues, it's important to figure out what can be done. Do we need stricter laws? Yes. Should there be faster implementation of laws? Most definitely. It's imperative to instill a fear in the minds of those who think that they can get away with molesting or raping a woman. They need to be told that their lives WILL be at stake if they so much as think about destroying someone else's.
There also need to fast-track courts that make sure that justice is given on time. Unlike what happened in the Nirbhaya case, it shouldn't take long to punish those who've been proven guilty. And most importantly, we need to encourage women to come out and talk about rape and molestation. We can't make them feel that it's their fault or if they've been violated, they need to keep shut about it. The stigma is not for the one who was raped but the one who raped instead.
So what is the solution? Yes, laws need to be stricter and timely action needs to be taken. But can we actually quantify the punishment for a rapist considering the woman who's been wronged will have to live with the trauma for the rest of her life, that is if she survives!
There's no clear answer. There can't be. Rape is such a brutal crime that it doesn't call for logic. And yet, logic is equally important.
To encourage this discussion, ScoopWhoop has come up with it's first crime-thriller, SNEH, that delves into the issue of rape and justice for women.
You can watch the movie here:
Perhaps it'll give you a whole new perspective!