So here’s how not to react to a case of molestation.
It’s being reported today that on the 12th of July, a man from Karnataka was paraded semi-naked through his town in Bijapur district after he was stripped, forced to wear a skirt and garlanded with slippers. Half his head and moustache were shaved off. He was forced to walk from his home to the village square accompanied by beating drums.
According to police, the village fair took place the previous night, after which the man, Shankar Rathod, was invited to his cousin Umaraj Rathod’s house. Shankar Rathod and his other friends were drunk. After dinner, Shankar allegedly held Umaraj’s daughter’s while getting up. Umaraj alleged that Shankar had molested his daughter, leading to a verbal argument. By the morning, Umaraj gathered his relatives, who stripped Shankar and paraded him through the village.
Of course, this is obviously a pretty horrific instance of vigilante justice and public shaming. It isn’t fair for people to take the law into their own hands and distribute justice as they see fit. India’s already facing a terrible vigilante justice problem, as you can see most clearly in the number of assaults, beatings, lynchings and murders allegedly over the beef ban, but actually just over deep-rooted bigotry.
On an aside, in this case, it’s also a bit ironic how widely they missed the point when choosing the nature of punishment to inflict on Shankar. Attempting to shame a person accused of molestation by dressing them in a skirt is pretty silly, since it basically reinforces the very idea that perpetuates instances of molestation and sexual assault in the first place: that women are inferior and the things associated with them are worthy of ridicule and shame.