Murder of rapist of New Delhi man's daughter reflects global lack of faith in the justice system
Several days ago in New Delhi, India, 36-year-old Vinod Kumar tortured and killed a 45-year-old man whom Kumar believed had raped his 14-year-old daughter two months prior.
His daughter found out she was pregnant several days previous to the man’s murder, according to BBC News.
The 45-year-old man, a medical supplier, was invited by Kumar for dinner to be confronted, but the man taunted him and further provoked him.
Kumar fed him and gave him drugged drinks, then tied the man down to a chair with bedsheets and used a spatula heated by his stove to burn the man’s genitals before strangling him to death.
According to The Indian Express, Kumar chose not to notify authorities of his daughter’s rape because he was afraid neighbors and relatives would blame the girl and give her a bad name.
I have seen an outpouring of support for Kumar’s actions on comment sections and social media, saying that justice has been served.
However, the reality is that the man’s torture and murder are cruel, unusual and unjustified.
Do I believe that the alleged rapist should have been punished? Absolutely, if proven guilty. But we don’t live in the middle ages anymore. We have developed beyond using animalistic mutilation as a form of punishment.
At the same time, it’s painfully obvious that if rape cases are taken to court, it’s unlikely the accused will be charged with any crime.
The circumstances are telling of a society that created a situation in which an enraged father didn’t think he could turn to authorities to help him and his family.
Kumar took the law into his own hands because he believed his daughter would be shamed if his community found out, and that the justice system would do nothing to see that his daughter’s alleged rapist paid for his crime, if proven guilty.
Another issue is that some people are assuming the daughter lied about her rape. Many assume girls cry “rape” to get attention, revenge or distract from something else. But only two percent of rape cases in the United States are false, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Obviously this alleged sexual assault didn’t take place in America, and it was never proven to have happened, but given the daughter’s pregnancy and the murdered man’s alleged taunting of Kumar one can hardly doubt this case has legitimacy.
Due to the nature of sexual assault, it is difficult to prove that it happened and convict an alleged rapist. And because of the globally persistent rape culture, victim blaming is all too common.
I sympathize with Kumar. He found out his daughter had been violated by a neighbor and knew that she would be blamed by society for something that wasn’t her fault. She would bear the weight of her rapist’s crime for the rest of her life, and he felt powerless to stop it unless he took drastic action.
Kumar’s choice to torture the man was unfortunate and has surely torn apart the family he was trying to protect. I understand why he did it. If India — and all nations around the globe — took steps to stop perpetuating rape culture and inflicted harsher punishments on convicted rapists, he wouldn’t have felt the need to take the law into his own hands.
According to the Indian Express, Kumar knelt beside the body of the man he had tortured and killed, and he wept. He then turned himself into the police.
He knew his actions were wrong. But at the end of the day, those actions are the fault of the justice system that he knew would fail his daughter, and the society that he knew would shun her.
Emily Jenks is the features editor at The State News. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.