Monday, September 18, 2006

Hands Dipped in Boiling Oil in Attempt to Prove Innocence

I'll let the title speak since the details behind this story are a little horrifying. Full article here.

Quick Summary:
  • In Rajasthan, one of India's states, rice and wheat stolen from a school in late August.
  • The police were informed but took no action.
  • The council, or panchayat, decided to find the culprit itself.
  • 150 men from the village and neighboring areas were commanded to pick a copper ring out of cauldron of boiling oil.
  • The panchayat decided the 50 men who refused to retrieve the ring were guilty.
  • The council elders have now been arrested.
  • One man involved said this is not the first time such an incident has occurred.

My $0.02: A lot to ponder about. First is the meaning of food in our culture. Food is so plentiful. If someone came in and stole food from a school, there would be anger in the community over who would do such, but the school would probably be able to replace the food easily. There definitely wouldn't be any sort of extreme torture. Food is so available we don't even realize its value... My second issue is why only men were gathered. A woman could just as easily have stolen the food. The fact women weren't even thought suspect or capable subtly reflects inequality. Finally, the method used to find the thief was obviously ridiculous. The guilty were probably more likely to stick their hands in the oil than the innocent since they had something to prove. The innocent would definitely defy the punishment and not stick their hands in oil. The situation is a modern witch hunt. And to think torture has occurred in the area before and could occur again...

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