“So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.” 
― Seamus Heaney

The Delhi gang rapes sickened me physically. For days and weeks I could not stop imagining the brutality of the attack and the callous, cold cruelty of the six men who tortured and raped the young woman they had in their clutches. Only God could forgive such barbaric acts.

And none of us are God.

But every time I look at the photos of the four men who have just been sentenced to death, I think of their parents choosing their names. I think about them as babies, about the hope they must have represented to their families, about the dreams their mothers would have had for them and about the way it all went so horribly, desperately wrong.

I am not trying to sentimentalize them. They were selfish and brutal; they were devoid of any human feeling and what they did was monstrous and beyond any possible understanding.

Only God could fathom them. And none of us are God.

I cannot even begin to imagine the enormous ocean of grief the young woman’s family must be floating in, the way they must replay the images of their daughter’s torture over and over in their minds, the way their sleep must be haunted by the memory of what she suffered and the way peace must elude them so completely they can only think of justice and revenge.

Only God could heal them. And none of us are God.

The death sentence was inevitable. The public has been baying for blood for weeks now and  the political backlash would have been too much to withstand had the sentence been any different. There would have been outrage and rioting in the streets.

So these four depraved men will be tossed to the lions. The crowds will be appeased. The rage will subside and the moment when we could have begun a different sort of journey will pass us by again.

Because we must never delude ourselves that justice has been served, that anything has changed or that a young woman’s death was not completely and totally in vain. In the nine months since her horrific death, how many other women have been raped and murdered? How many little girls have been mutilated, abused and trafficked? How many girls and women have further restricted their freedom, further withdrawn from public life, further been humiliated, taunted, harassed and attacked?

Nothing has changed. No one has been healed. There is no closure and there is no justice.

The celebrations on the streets now that these men will hang sicken me almost as much as what they did to that young woman. There is nothing to celebrate. There have been no lessons learned. There has been no victory won. We are exactly where we were in December of last year.

Except that now we are doing what only God should do. And none of us are God.






Showing 9 comments
  • Divya Chowfin Diederichs

    Jo, such a poignant piece. This is exactly what I feel – couldn’t have said it any better.

  • Eecc Ddn


  • Swapnil

    None of us are Gods!
    Brilliant! Especially the line ‘The celebrations on the streets now that these men will hang sicken me almost as much as what they did to that young woman. There is nothing to celebrate.’

  • Siddharth Sharma

    Revenge is the way of the world, but it is not God’s way.

  • Aakash

    Let God consider forgiving them. I don’t want my tax money spent to keep them alive in prison.

  • Divyanshu

    I agree none of us are God. God let that girl got raped and tortured, like thousands of women around the world every year. We are doing what God failed to do. We are fighting back. We are punishing the guilty. Because, that what differentiate us from animals. We do not let God alone determine our fate. We act.

    This is not the end of rape and violence against women, this is only the beginning. Look at ramanyan, look at mahabharat, our god teach us to destroy the evil.

    The evil exist because the world is not angry enough!!

  • RamblinRose72

    Not revenge – consequence. That nasty little thing from early childhood meant to protect and inculcate a broad framework for acceptable behaviour so that we can live together with some basic level of sanity. And yes, that is problematic too, but this judgement takes a stand (and the evidence is indisputable). It may not deter the next predator but neither will it encourage him. Zero tolerance has to start somewhere. Again, the evidence is
    indisputable. I’m far from rejoicing but just as far from weeping for them.

    • Jo Chopra McGowan

      I’ve been thinking about this response for the last two days and I have to admit it does make sense. “Consequence” sounds right, and yes, people need to understand that their choices have results.

      There is no evidence, of course, to suggest that the death penalty actually deters anyone. (Speaking of which, front page of the Times this morning, a cleaner on a bus rapes a 4 year old child.) But if it is consequence that is the goal, maybe deterrence doesn’t matter – THESE guys were punished. THEY got what they deserved.

      I’m not weeping for them either. At some very basic level, I feel almost glad – who wants such people around? And, as someone else commented below: why should our taxes have to support them in prison?

      But it’s such a horrible thing to contemplate: that moment when, in cold blood, people kill other people.

      • RamblinRose72

        I’m wondering how there could be evidence to suggest the death penalty deters anyone. It would seem to me that it doesn’t deter some, but how could one possibly know how many have been deterred? And perhaps those who are not deterred are undeterrable anyway, perhaps they are driven by mental/ emotional/ spiritual demons that we don’t entirely understand, or lay people don’t understand, anyway. I am not a proponent of the death penalty but in this case, I think if it hadn’t been awarded, the situation would have become even worse. It would encourage violence against women in many, many ways. Everything about it is horrible to contemplate.

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