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Nirbhaya gang rape vs Bilkis Bano of Gujarat riots- Why lesser punishment for harsher crime?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

The ‘nation’ has heaved a sigh of relief. Nirbhaya is liberated as those who violated her brutally will be hanged to death. Hundreds of cases of violence against women have occurred after we all promised ourselves many thing at the Jantar Mantar. Her parents are happy that Justice is finally done even when they know justice does not bring the person they love one and retribution is not really justice. Every one cry that rapists must be hanged. That was the common Indian cry but are Muslims, dalits, adivasis not Indian. How come the courts, the media, the general public does not feel the same way as they speak about Nirbhaya.

I have no issue at all with these sentences though we know well that sentencing the worst from of justice will not help things further because we assume now justice is done and our work is over. The feudal brahmanical culture which treat women as object and which is the root cause of all the evils that our women face, is easily forgotten.

In 2002 Bilkis Bano was gang raped by the goons to avenge the Godhara killing. She was brutally and barbarically assaulted, violated by a huge mob in the name of Hindu retribution. Bilkis was five month pregnant that time and lost 14 members of her family during the heinous and criminal crime with full protection of the state. It was a story which must put us shame as how the state apparatus did not work.

After 15 years of the crime, the Bombay High Court handed down life sentence to 11 members. It refused to consider it rarest of the rare cases. Bilkis is now appealing that her perpetrators must face death penalty. The enormity and brutality of Bilkis Bano case is actually much higher than any other cases in modern Indian history when a woman was publically brutalised and her family persons torched to death in front of her.

Nirbhaya was violated and brutally murdered later on. Bilkis Bano faced the same and so many other facing. They all need justice but let the justice be in such a way that incidents like these dont happen. I am afraid, death penalty has never been a deterrent. While we stand united against death penalty as we feel that India is unable to change its socio cultural discourse.

Instead it is taking escape routes of retribution as justice. We all become happy after a certain judgement is passed while things happens in different ways. It is time we wake up and look inwards that violence against our women is systematic and has got legitimised by various social customs and norms. Unless we hit at the belly of those norms and cultural practices, it will continue to happen on daily basis in which some cases will come to lime light while other will just die down for the fear of getting revealed and bringing ‘shame’ to the victim or their families. It is time we debate all these issues and develop alternative cultural practices where an individual who is violated does not lose his/her dignity and sense of honor.

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