Public shaming incident under investigation in India

A woman in India was allegedly forced to walk naked for six miles through three villages because she had engaged in an “illicit love affair.” As if that on its own isn’t horrifying enough, the incident was caught on a cell phone camera.

via BBC.

Critics say that it was only after mobile phone clips of the woman went into wide circulation that the police swung into action.

Six of the men who allegedly molested her have been arrested.

The West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) has also asked the district police for a report into the incident within a month.

“If we are not satisfied with this report, we will do our own investigation and submit recommendations to the government,” WBHRC chairman Narayan Chandra Seal said.

What has especially upset many is the involvement of locally powerful people – alongside schoolboys – in the incident.

Every few months a story like this breaks where a woman in a rural part of the world is shamed for having romantic relations with someone she was not supposed to and two things keep sticking out to me. The first is that the men are never publicly shamed for their involvement in these affairs, this is true both in “modernized” places and in remote regions. When it comes to the social limitations of love, accountability always falls on the shoulders of women.

The second is that these incidents are being caught on cell phone cameras and uploaded to the internet forcing us to accept that the current condition in the world right now is that women are continually abused, killed, beaten and humiliated for expressing their sexuality in ways that their social circumstances can’t handle. If this incident had not been caught on video, we wouldn’t know it would happen, her community wouldn’t be brought to justice and this woman wouldn’t be in protective custody. The power of new media can not be understated here.

But the juxtaposition of living in a condition where having a woman walk six miles naked is appropriate punishment all while having access to new and social media is appalling to me. Can new and social media bring justice to women that are victimized by these gross abuses or is it one more thing for people to laugh at online at the expense of one humiliated woman?

Thanks to Daniel for the link.

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