Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Handcuffed in school in the US

What do you say when a teenager is HANDCUFFED in a SCHOOL in the US for a crime she never committed?

The news that a school girl, Krittika Biswas, who happens to be the daughter of an Indian diplomat, was arrested, handcuffed and thrown in with criminals for a crime she never committed, has shocked India. (Her supposed crime was sending some obscene emails to her teachers). The fact that these actions have been taken in the United States of America is all the more shocking. For we all know that the United States shouts the loudest on human rights, and is the self appointed monitor of human rights records of other countries through its NGOs like Amnesty. But its own status surfaces through actions like these and leave a very bad taste in the mouth. For the leader has a different set of rules to judge others, and ignores the wrong doings in its own house. 

There are some very basic issues in this case, which are very disturbing:.
1. Should societies that pride themselves for being civilized resort to handcuffing school children, even if they have committed a crime?
2. Treat someone as a criminal even before the charges against the person are proven? What has happened to the justice system of the country?

3. Should a crime like sending some obscene emails warrant handcuffs?

4. While Krittika was held in custody she was not even allowed to use the bathroom and had to go in front of everyone. Which medieval society are we talking about?

5. Krittika has been quoted as saying that the arrest was based on nothing and even when the real culprit was found, neither the school nor the state apologized to her. What does this say of a school system, where young are supposed to be guided and nurtured, where the teachers set examples? Even if the girl had sent the obscene emails, the teachers and the school should provide a system where the child can be counseled. In India, the police is kept out of educational institutes, and can be called in only in case of physical violence or damage to property. Now, what is the role of the teachers? Are they there merely there to teach maths or physics? Does their role end there? What is the purpose of schools?

6. And this one takes the hamburger! Even after the charges were dropped against her by the district attorney, the school officials sent her to a suspension centre! Some gross negligence here -- adding insult to injury.

Krittika has sued New York city for $1.5 million. But I feel justice would be done only if the school principal and other concerned authorities are arrested and tried for gross negligence of duty and torturing of a child.

To read about the case in detail click here.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Chemical castration for rapists? Why not?

Kamini Lau,  Delhi's additional sessions judge, has shown a lot of pluck in calling for "chemical castration" of child rapists and serial offenders. It is high time we had some stiff punishment for these criminals. In our country rapists rarely get the imprisonment they deserve. At the end of this post, I give links to some cases which show the non serious manner in which society and our judges have been dealing with such cases. A former Chief Justice of  India had even suggested that the victim marry her rapist!

Kamini Lau is quoted as having said: "A full public debate, with regard to imposition of castration (both surgical and chemical) as an alternative punishment for the offence of rape and molestation, is the need of the hour." She made the observation while delivering a 10 year rigorous imprisonment for a man who raped his minor step daughter for over four years. To read the report in full click here.

Rapists in our country are let off  very lightly with just a few years in jail at best. The woman however goes through a private hell her whole life. The most telling example is the case of the Aruna Shanbag, the nurse in a Mumbai hospital who was raped by a ward boy.  Walmiki, the rapist, is a free man today after a few years in prison. He lives with his wife and children and works, (really horrifying as per some newspaper reports) in a hospital! Aruna, instead, lives a life confined to the hospital bed, having lost her power of speech and movement. Her fiance and family have deserted her. She has been alone for decades. The punishment meted out to the criminal in this case does not match his crime. He should have been imprisoned for life. And kept away from his wife and children. If he could behave in this way with a woman who was a senior colleague, it does not need much imagination to think how he must be treating his wife and daughters, if he has any.

A couple of years ago I had asked women bloggers from around the world what they felt should be the punishment for rape. What do you think they said? Prison for life or castration! The similarity in their response was amazing.

Some earlier posts -
Another shocking judgement on rape

Rape victim has to resort to legal action to take an exam!

Six month old baby girl raped

Rape, fastest growing crime in India

Society elders decide five shoe smacks enough punishment for a rapist

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