Damini and Other Breaches in a Law-Disabled Society

The sad news is that the raped Indian woman — Damini, who succumbed to the injuries sustained in the hands of brutality — is not by any way represented or empathized with by the hundreds and thousands who, since the condemning act, have flocked the lobbies of Social Media and the streets of India. Collected in a wet blanket what most these “concerned parties”, “appalled individuals”, Feminists and proto-Feminists do is give vent to their personal apathy and frustration. The media lobby, with its proverbial nose for news, pumps in enough air to the balloon, but that is very much about what you may, at the collective best, find regards the “real” issue of the rape and subsequent death — hot air.

The legendary Rape of the Sabine Women in Prehistoric Rome

The legendary Rape of the Sabine Women in Prehistoric Rome

Damini is not the first, nor will she be the last to be singled out, preyed on, raped and abandoned. The hundreds of Sri Lankans croaking their throats in mourning for the unfortunate Indian woman have most probably felt the same agony, if not more, in the face of the horrendous crimes committed in Paradise Isle itself… Or, so I assume, for the facility for mourning and socially perceived agitation is largely a media product. The past week has been rich in sympathy — with articles, editorials and poems being written for the woman in question. But, it doesn’t require a blog entry to point out that all this is not going to do an iota of difference for the faceless masses that are destined to perish in the face of crime, in the same way thousands have suffered and died in the course of (among other histories) modern history.

The tears shed and disgust socialized through Facebook or twitter would be the ideal response for one you may fetishize as yet another “victim” that — in the brutality of her death — satiated the perverse expectations of society. Her death is a “stimulation” for the poet to shed a flimsy tear. It is the kickass impetus for the media giant to earn a big buck. Neither the poem nor the committed entry of “investigative my ass journalism” will do anything in the way of transformative legislation or enhancement of rights, which, sadly, is the only avenue to safeguard the greater security of the citizenry; where they are vulnerable.

In an age where technology was primitive and the traffic of information was at a low minimum, we free floated on a myth that Sri Lanka / Ceylon was an island where a woman could walk naked from Point Pedro to Dondra naked and with a gem in her outstretched palm. In these days of under-reportage, the brutal murders such as the “Adlain Vitharana Murder”, or the “Premawathie Manamperi Murder” were fetishized, but not entirely without a perverse satisfaction either. In the telling of the “Manamperi legend” a preoccupation with the sexual and the morbid detail can be located in the many accounts that have since been publicized. The crucial aspect is that comparatively very little has been done in independent Ceylon / Sri Lanka for the enhancement of the “ground condition” for women’s rights — and by this I mean the reach and facility the woman receives in the “practical application” of the law and in civil spaces.

Violence as a fetish

Violence as a fetish

Coming back to the many friends of mine (among others) who had consumed Damini through their poetry of anxiety, how many poems were written for the 14 women killed in Kotakethana and its vicinity? How many poems were written for the young underage girl kidnapped, held captive and repeatedly raped by a PC MP and his likeminded in Southern Sri Lanka? What about the hundreds and thousands of women raped, tortured and killed by the security forces in the South as well as in the North over the past 30 years? Are there poems written for privilege-less ordinary men and women who come under the arbitrary heel of the “law enforcing” personnel, being lashed by their rod of civil authority at their own whim? There being no poetry for these “less sexy” gross violations of humanity is acceptable — such poems, anyway, would be a waste of anxiety.

In the wake of a spree of violence, rape, murder and other forms of perversity, the fundamentalist block of the government are championing a cause to re-effect the capital punishment. It goes without saying that among the leading ranks of crime-mongers and violators of democratic spaces are highly connected personalities, who are blessed and pampered by megalomaniacs of the regime. Sri Lanka in December 2012 is no longer a full fledged democracy, but a paralyzed democrat — elements of a parliamentary democracy and its social extension given a prolonged ticket in the Accident Ward. By the looks of it, the next stop for this long cherished tradition is the Morgue and January 2013, by all signs and symbols, is going to be the ultimate “Rumble In the Jungle” in the Government vs Chief Justice bout. With the consistency the government has shown over the past 3 years, foregone conclusions are quite welcome. The capital sentence is ethically wrong — it is a primitive, dated implement which is sidelined from many modern societies. In a society infiltrated as we are by bureaucratic idiocy, administrative incompetency, nepotism, favouritism, corrupt law keeping forces and legally under-privileged citizens it is a tool better not had.

If Damini is your concern, extend the cause beyond the individual; see such gross violations as an allowance of a moral pathology of our times. “Crime” and “violence” have been unofficially recognized and even in no uncertain terms encouraged by regimes for its own sustenance. Damini will only be another skull in a morbid necklace. Poetry and twitter, another sublimation to destress yourself.

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