Punishment Once Removed


I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

I don’t usually like to interfere with the justice systems of other countries. There’s already so much of our own justice system that needs interfering with.

But when my wife showed me a story of a village council in India ordering the punishment of two sisters, for a supposed crime committed by their brother, I couldn’t help myself.

The sisters are twenty-three and fifteen, lowly born of caste. Their equally lowly brother had the audacity to run off with a high-born man’s wife. The council, comprised of village “wise men,” who shouldn’t be — but in this case surely will be — confused with village idiots, decided as a matter of honor that the sisters should be punished.

As a matter of honor, these idiots — wait, now I’m getting confused: these wise men — ordered the sisters be raped and paraded naked around the village. The theory of course is that other young men will then think twice about running off with a better man’s wife, lest their sisters be similarly disciplined.

The sisters, prudently, have left the village, hiding out until the outcome of a petition to India’s Supreme Court to overrule the village wise dudes so the woman and girl can  get off the public enemies list and go home.

The International Criminal Court only last year added a statute describing government-sanctioned rape as a crime against humanity. Government-sanctioned crime against children was already a crime against humanity.

The court had in mind countries like Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Japan, Kenya — where rape was a policy of genocide. If the higher Indian courts do nothing to intervene, the ICC might like to add India to the roster.

You can do something to intervene, if you like. Amnesty International is asking people to ensure the safety of the sisters with a plea to the Indian Supreme Court. You can do that here.

Sure, it’s a left-wing bleeding heart organization, and if you’re like me you don’t want to mess in other people’s affairs.

But if you’re like me, maybe, this one time, you can’t help yourself.


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