Crime and Punishment?

Wednesday, August 26 was Women’s Equality Day.  Many women all over the world took pictures of themselves depicting the “Rosie the Riveter” image from WWII.  You can see some of my favorite Broadway ladies showing their solidarity in the fight here.  The events of the day caused me to turn my thoughts toward women all over the world fighting for more than just equal pay.  My book club just read a book called “The Republic of Imagination” where a former Literature teacher speaks about the freedom we enjoy here in America to read whatever works of art we choose without fear.  She implores us to not take these freedoms for granted, but to cherish them and explore them.

While I am keenly aware of what I am facing as a black woman in America and that my plight is real and there are many battles I must fight and plan on winning,  I am also aware of how blessed I am and that I have a voice and purpose.  Yes, I will stand with my sisters for equal pay and many rights that we do not yet enjoy. But I will also not take for granted the blessing of being able to speak truth and bring to light the plight of other women.  It is our charge in a free country.  It is our responsibility, our privilege, our honor, our mandate to help each other.  God loves us all and if we are truly His hands and feet, then we have to stand in solidarity with all of our sisters.

So, when I saw this article posted on Twitter, two days after Women’s Equality Day, I knew it was something I had to write about.  India has long had a tradition of village councils.  These village councils are usually composed of men in a certain “higher” caste (state in society).  When “laws” are broken within the village often times these “crimes” are taken in-front of the village council for judgement and sentencing.  Meenakshi Kumari and her sister (who is 15 years old) have been sentenced to be raped and paraded through the village naked with black faces and to be shamed and taunted.  Why?  Because their brother was in love with a woman outside of his caste.  She was forced to marry someone in her caste but because they were in love they ran away and eloped.  Eventually they both came back after hearing that family members had been tortured.  The torturing did not ease the anger of the forlorned first husband nor the village council.  And so, to pay for these crimes the girls were sentenced and their family has subsequently fled.

It’s true, this isn’t uncommon.  There are more stories of this nature and others even more horrific.  But, the commonality should be the thing that disturbs us.  Why doesn’t it?  Why aren’t we angrier about that fact?

I hope a lot of men and women are writing about what is happening to these two young women.  I hope everyone gets outraged and that rage brings about a revolt and the men who sentenced these two young sisters are taken out of power. I hope and pray that this revolution spreads and takes out any other caste system in all of the surrounding villages. These village councils are no longer legal in India.  We can help our sisters and brothers to take down this heinous institution.  We are not powerless!

To join the revolution and save these two young ladies from a horrific sentence, please sign this petition.  This is not a moment where we can stand idly by hoping someone else steps in.  If we say we are fighting for equality and do nothing to join in the fight, we are hypocrites.  I urge you to stand with me and many others who are fighting with these two young women against tyranny and injustice.  Now is the time.  Do not wait.

To the Revolution!