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Jethmalani’s “disease”?

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Senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani is known to wear several hats; besides being a distinguished lawyer, he has dabbled in politics with indeterminate...

Senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani is known to wear several hats; besides being a distinguished lawyer, he has dabbled in politics with indeterminate results. He has now discovered a disease that the world had never before even imagined: Women suffer from a “chronic disease which draws them to men”. No, he is not referring to the biological urge for procreation; he implies that somehow women seek, if not invite, rape.

He is defending godman Asaram Bapu in a case of alleged rape of a minor girl. He, however, was careful enough to submit before the Rajasthan High Court on Tuesday that “this (discovery) is subject to police investigation”. As the defense lawyer, Jethmalani was well within his rights to argue that “the age of the girl as well as the entire case (against Asaram) is fabricated”. The wisdom, or the lack of it, in the arguments is best left to be judged by the high court which has deferred hearing on the bail plea of the godman. But the arguments have already caused national outrage; Twitter is packed with incisive comments.

Celebrated Bengali writer Taslima Nasreen, who has been the target of male chauvinists in India, has quipped: “Girl has disease that draws her to men; then men rape her to cure her of the disease”. By Jethmalani’s logic no rapist should be punished because he has committed no offence but only rendered human service; probably what the doctor advised but could not cure and left it to criminal lawyers to cure. On Wednesday, the media reported that in Ranchi, Jharkhand, a 12-year-old girl had committed suicide on being forced to marry her rapist.

Parenthetically, the Supreme Court ruled the other day that a rapist, by offering to marry the victim of his lust, cannot get a lighter penalty. Yet one hears of cases of rape victims being forced to marry rapists. Where is the law of the land? Who had forced the girl to marry her rapist? Should that person not be punished for his/her action? Of course, it is understandable that poor parents, already treating their daughters as liabilities hard to get off their backs without dowry, should wish to let them marry their rapists, but can the law of the land allow that? Where would that leave the Nirbhaya Act and similar other laws?
If someone forced the child in this case to marry her rapist, he/she knew who the offender was. If that is true, how come the rapist was not arrested by the police and prosecuted before he could offer to marry the victim? By the same token, the Rajasthan minister now facing a rape charge should not be arrested, tried and punished if found guilty; he should instead be rewarded for having “cured” a woman even though it is surprising that the alleged beneficiary of his healing touch has tried to put her benefactor in the dock.
Jethmalani may, meanwhile, take heart from the fact that he is in the company of a little known film actress who, propounding her own theory, has reportedly said that “revealing clothes are to blame for rapes”. For how much longer should the country tolerate the bilge mouthed by those probably soft in the head? Freedom of speech can, by no species of courtesy, be interpreted to mean freedom to pollute the atmosphere with thoughtless remarks about womanhood.
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