[Reader-list] Media romanticizing rapists
mirzachhotoo at yahoo.co.in
Fri Jun 25 19:58:03 IST 2004
I agree that hanging this rapist is not going to bring his victim back to life or could do anything to erase the pain and trauma that child must have gone through when he was abusing her and raping her. I also agree with you that death penalty is a violation of the right to life, it is inhuman, it is cruel, it is degrading and worse there's no opportunity for the criminal (if a criminal. Death penalty, as you and I know is also a measure to silence dissenting voices) to either repent or reform.
Having said this, I would like to clarify that the purpose of my mail is not to create a debate on whether a rapist should be given death sentence or not or if there should be death penalty at all. The purpose is to bring up the issue of romanticization of the rapists and their portrayal as 'poor man, it was just one time error, he had no control, he is a victim too, look, how good he has been during his sentence period'. I am against this sort of individualization of sexual crimes against women and children. And it is not just India media that glorifies, directly or indirectly, the criminal. This trend can be noticed in other countries as well.
I am raising questions about the way violence against women and children is portrayed in media and about media's attitude towards perpetrators (too mild a term in comparison to what these people do) of violence.
Shuddha <shuddha at sarai.net> wrote:
This is a brief response to your post about the report in the Kolkata
edition of the Times of India about the death sentence and impending
execution by handing of Dhanajoy Chatterjee who raped and murdered a 14
year old girl.
Let me clarify one thing at the very begining. I have absolutely no
sympathy for any man who has raped and murdered anyone, and least of all
someone who has raped and murdered a minor.And I agree with your
revulsion at any attempt to romanticize the life of any such person,
just as I would be critical of any attempt to romanticize the life of
military personnel, prison staff, policemen, terrorists, powerful and
well connected individuals who operate within and outside the law and
others who rape and murder, routinely. in the line of their work, and in
the pursuit of their pleasures.
However, I have absolutely no qualms in saying and believing that the
death penalty is a barbarous and deeply violent institution that in my
opinion should only be a matter of shame in any civilized society. The
fact that the death penalty continues to exist in India, and is
routinely used, not only against rapists and murderers but also against
others, is a shocking indictment in my opinion of the routine,
institutionalized violence that we are prepared to condone in our
society. Dhananjay Chatterjee's death by hanging, within the confines of
a state institution, in Alipore Central Jail, will not bring the girl he
raped and murdered back to life. A life for a life is the ethic of the
blood feud that we continue to enshrine in our constitution, i think it
only brings the taint of killing on us all.
I doubt that the death penalty is an effective deterrent against violent
crime, if anything, societies that retain the death penalty (the United
States and China being leaders in this field, are arguably much more
violent than those that have abolished it, after all, the death penalty
confers on the act of killing a certain legitimacy, and this, in my
opinion contributes to more, not less violence in society)
I have for many years believed that there needs to be a considered and
an honest debate about the existence of the death penalty, and
extra-judicial executions, and concomitantly about the romantic cult of
violence that is so much a part of the vocabulary of resistance
movements in India. I am not a pacifist, but I would call for a
disbanding of military and police functions, I do not believe that
violence has any virtues, I do not believe that any valuable social or
political transformations can be brought about by violent means and at
the same time I am not an absolutist believer in what is called
'non-violence' (in that I do believe that armed resistance, by
individuals, or by groups, in self defence is justified, when no other
options are left, and when survival is at stake) but I do believe that
the death penalty and thinking that killing people is a solution of any
kind, is the kind of attitude that actually engenders and fosters
violence in society.
Dhananjay Chatterjee is responsible for the life he took, and he
deserves the harshest punishment for it, but we are all responsible for
the taking of his life, and by ensuring his death we are also cutting
off the possibility that he would be condemned to live out a life
contemplating the enormity of the violence that he unleashed on a
defenceless person. We ensure that neither Dhananjay, nor we, have to
really think about what violence means.
I look forward to more thinking on the list about this issue.
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