BANGALORE: The hanging on Saturday of Reyhaneh Jabbari (26), the Iranian woman convicted of killing a man who was trying to sexually abuse her, has shocked many in Bangalore. Four distinguished women share their thoughts with City Express:
Laws in Iran aim to frighten women
The incident has been unduly harsh but in tune with most of the laws in place there, which aim to frighten women into submission. In India, the situation isn’t as bad. But here, along with gender discrimination, there’s also discrimination based on caste and class. So if a woman from a poor family is raped, nobody, including the media, takes as much notice as if the victim is from a middle-class background. The attitude that poor people are used to hardship is very feudal.
heroism should have been celebrated Laxmi Chandrashekar Theatre actor
I am appalled. It’s not a crime for a woman to defend herself. If a woman manages successfully to defend herself against rape, the act should be celebrated as heroic, not condemned. Her hanging is shameful to the whole of humanity; it just reflects how male-centric we have become. True, there are fundamentalist groups who don’t listen to the voice of sanity, but just because they can’t hear us, we can’t stop shouting.
The UNHRC and governments should show support to her. In India, society blames the woman for rape and abuse. A man can get away with adultery but in barbaric situations, a woman who does the same thing is paraded naked and stoned to death. Even otherwise, the psychological trauma and harassment she faces can drive her to kill herself, to her own death. It might seem less cruel than hanging, but it’s not too different.
Had signed petitions against the hanging
Why are we commenting on Reyhaneh Jabbari’s hanging in Iran when many crimes against women go unreported in India?
In 2009, seven-year-old Yogita Thakre was found dead in Nagpur with bruises all over her body in a car allegedly owned by Nitin Gadkari. What happened to that case? Has anyone followed it up? What right do we have to comment on what happens in Iran when every day, we as women, face violence? That said, all religious laws first and foremost target women and blame them for the violence perpetrated against them.
I am against religious laws, be it the Sharia laws or the saffron Talibanisation that we see today. I had signed two petitions to stall the hanging of Reyhaneh Jabbari. But I knew that without a strong diplomatic initiative, the execution would go on. The UN has no jurisdiction over Iran’s laws. When we scoff at Islamist violence against women, let us not forget that caste violence against women is primarily Hindu. And at the end of the debate, it is not even about religion. Just about the need to keep women under the boot.
Self-defence is a defence in court Darshana Mitra Lawyer, Alternative Law Forum
I have not read the judgement, but only media reports of it, so I won’t be able to say whether it was gender-biased. But given that it’s Iran, and its history in dealing with issues like this, that’s what one would think. I also haven’t come across any similar case here, but self-defence is a defence you could use in court. And when established successfully, it would either lead to acquittal, or more realistically, a lesser degree of punishment.
Reyhaneh Jabbari wrote this moving, letter to her mother just before she was hanged
“Dear Sholeh, today I learned that it is now my turn to face Qisas (the Iranian regime’s law of retribution). I am hurt as to why you did not let me know yourself that I have reached the last page of the book of my life. Don’t you think that I should know? You know how ashamed I am that you are sad. Why did you not take the chance for me to kiss your hand and that of dad?
The world allowed me to live for 19 years. That ominous night it was I that should have been killed. My body would have been thrown in some corner of the city, and after a few days, the police would have taken you to the coroner’s office to identify my body and there you would also learn that I had been raped as well. The murderer would have never been found since we don’t have their wealth and their power. Then you would have continued your life suffering and ashamed, and a few years later you would have died of this suffering and that would have been that.
However, with that cursed blow the story changed. My body was not thrown aside, but into the grave of prison. But you know better that death is not the end of life.
You taught me that one comes to this world to gain an experience and with each birth, comes a responsibility. I learned that sometimes one has to fight. You told me that for creating a value one should persevere even if one dies.When this incident happened, my teachings did not help me. Being presented in court made me appear as a cold-blooded murderer and a ruthless criminal. I shed no tears. I did not beg. I did not cry my head off since I trusted the law. You see, I didn’t even kill the mosquitoes and I threw away the cockroaches by taking them by their antennas. Now I have become a premeditated murderer. How optimistic was he who expected justice from the judges! He never questioned the fact that my hands are not coarse like those of a sportswoman, especially a boxer. And this country never wanted me and no one supported me when under the blows of the interrogator I was crying out and I was hearing the most vulgar terms. When I shed the last sign of beauty from myself by shaving my hair I was rewarded: 11 days in solitary.
Dear Sholeh, don’t cry for what you are hearing. I understood that beauty is not looked for in this era. My dear mother, my ideology has changed and you are not responsible for it.
I leave you this handwritten material as my heritage.”