The content in this page ("Dying for Justice" by Harrison George) is not produced by Prachatai staff. Prachatai merely provides a platform, and the opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of Prachatai.

Dying for Justice

Well you can’t argue facts with an Imam, can you? 

There’s no need to worry about crime in Saudi Arabia, he said, and he’s been there.  Women don’t go in fear of rape because they have the death penalty for it.  And that is Sharia law, the law of God, which cannot be changed by man.  So that’s alright then.

Though hang on a minute.  Women also don’t have the right to drive in Saudi.  Maybe that’s why they don’t get raped.  And until now, they’ve not had the right to vote.  Could that be the determining factor?  Well we’ll find out next year when Saudi woman finally get to stand and vote in elections.  If the rape statistics go up, then it’s clear that women will have to be re-disenfranchised for their own safety. 

Though there are in fact rapes in Saudi Arabia.  Rape statistics must always be viewed with extreme circumspection due to massive under-reporting, but one estimate for Saudi Arabia in 1988 put the rate at 21.9 per 100,000 population.  That’s comparable to countries like Norway and Finland that haven’t had the death penalty for years and much higher than other spineless abolitionist states like Canada. 

One famous case in Saudi in 2006 involved a woman who was gang-raped.  Her attackers were imprisoned, but so was she – for being alone in a car with a male who was not a relative. 

But just a minute.  What happened to the death penalty for rape?  Ah well, you see, the court said there wasn’t really the evidence.  It was just the word of the woman (now a convicted felon) and the video of the attack that one of the rapists took on his mobile phone, but for some reason that couldn’t be admitted as evidence.

And after this travesty of injustice (but excellent anti-rape deterrence), the woman appealed.  Her sentence was increased after the charge against her was changed to adultery, and lying to the police was tacked on.

She was eventually given a Royal Pardon, though King Abdullah said there was nothing wrong with the way the courts had behaved (which also included yanking the defence lawyer’s licence).

But never mind.  This kind of publicity will keep the number of rapes down.  If women know they will be punished for being raped, they will make every effort to avoid it, thereby reducing the statistics.  Or at least avoid reporting it, which amounts to the same thing.

But the lesson for Thailand is clear.  If we wish to prevent further cases like that of the 13-year-old who was raped, murdered and thrown out of the window of an express train, we need, like India, to make laws based on the reaction of the faceless Facebook masses to sensational cases and institute the death penalty for rape.

And if the deterrent effect of the death penalty is so strong, I wonder why we should stop there. 

Corruption has been the crime du jour of the outraged middle classes even before Thaksin took up politics.  And for all the huffing and puffing, the statistics don’t show any improvement.  Why not make it a capital offence and give the bribe-givers and bribe-takers something to think about?

Saudi Arabia, our supposed exemplar, uses the death penalty not just for murder and rape, but also for armed robbery, drug use, witchcraft, abandoning Islam, and adultery.  Maybe the last one won’t be suitable for Thailand (not unless we really want to reduce the population figures), but the rest are worth considering.

As is their preferred method of execution – beheading.  In a public place.  As in the days of Siam of yore, so it would be culturally appropriate.  And in Saudi they cut the heads off 17-year-olds, with a salutary effect on juvenile delinquency, I’m sure.

With a few changes to the laws and some strong-minded judges, Thailand could easily emulate Saudi Arabia and rank among the top 5 judicial killer countries in the world.

And while we’re talking about taekwondo, the use of physical assault as a disciplinary measure seems to have won general approval in Thai society (‘my parents/teachers/trainers beat the crap out of me when I did wrong and look what a broad-minded, sympathetic, logical person it made me’).  It is only natural that if we have capital punishment, we ought to have corporal punishment as well. 

It is rumoured that many in the educational system still hanker for the days when they could beat children.  Well, beat them legally, because many never really stopped.  So I look to the Ministry of Education for general guidance on this, with a tariff of how many punches, slaps, kicks and strokes to designated parts of the underling’s body should be assigned for each offence. 

And these do not have to be actual crimes.  Bodily pain should be inflicted for things like schoolchildren forgetting their homework, office minions caught playing Candy Crush during working hours, columnists not meeting their deadlines, …

Er, hang on a minute.

 


About author:  Bangkokians with long memories may remember his irreverent column in The Nation in the 1980's. During his period of enforced silence since then, he was variously reported as participating in a 999-day meditation retreat in a hill-top monastery in Mae Hong Son (he gave up after 998 days), as the Special Rapporteur for Satire of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, and as understudy for the male lead in the long-running ‘Pussies -not the Musical' at the Neasden International Palladium (formerly Park Lane Empire).

 

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