Crime and Punishment: A Rape in Delhi

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Today the Delhi police arrested and blasted with water cannons those protesting the brutal gang-rape that sparked protests and social-media outrage. There are pictures too—of a young jean-clad woman being dragged away by cops. And of signs exhorting the death penalty for rape. And multitudes of young people protesting apathy or outright police and politician collusion with criminals in India’s capital.
This has been a media and social media sensation: the awful terrifying details of the rape, the petitions to make death penalty the punishment for the crime, the updates on the condition of the ICU-bound victim. No…not victim. The survivor. She was left for dead. She survived. She is no victim. A victim does not fight. She fought to live.
And that is why I am against the death penalty for rape crowd. Rape is an awful, terrible, horrific crime but it is not the same as murder. Anyone who is raped, , anyone who has been brutalized and lives is a survivor. If they do not, then by all means apply the penalty for murder. First figure out what rape is, what it really means before you start applying penalties. Penalties, which seem to equate rape with death. Rape is one of the most horrific things to happen to a woman. But it is not the worst. Not surviving a rape is the worst. No matter how much she suffers, dying is still worse. Because until there is life there is a promise of a future. And women do not need to be told that being raped is the end of everything good in their lives. That is giving too much power to the rapist, the men who feel like men only when they take by force what was not theirs to take. Equating rape to death makes women eternally suffering victims.
For too long has rape been akin to murder and to do so is to diminish the survivor. It feeds into the motivations between honor killings, as in the destruction and besmirching of some man’s property.As if the one raped is forever tainted by being forced to have something that mimics sex. Being raped is not the burden of the survivor. The only one dishonored is the perpetrator. Being raped does not make a woman less a woman. It does not make her less alive. It does not make her less in control of her future.
Remember those old movies where the raped woman had only two options: to kill herself or to become a prostitute? That is how Indian society has viewed raped women. If you are a good girl, recognize your dishonor and kill yourself. If not, then recognize that the forced violation of your body has left you with only one recourse, to become a slut and a vehicle for men’s lust. 
The best revenge a survivor has is to go on with her life. The only way is to go forward, to testify, to face her assailants and gain the courage to take her life back. Rape is a crime and it needs to be punished. But is death penalty the solution? Why?
The severity of the punishment is not the solution. Some kind of punishment is the solution. India has the lowest conviction rates around. Where is the outrage against that? Why is there no outrage that there are really no forensics or scientific evidence given in Indian courts? Even rape cases become a he said-she said scenario with eyewitness accounts and other archaic tools. So then if a survivor is left paralyzed or unable to speak how do her assailants get prosecuted?
If a rapist (as in this case) is from a lower socio-economic class he might get sentenced. This is still the Indian justice system right? Where the police catch a hold of the first poor person, beat the hell out of him and force him to confess to a crime even if the perpetrator was someone else—especially if that someone is rich of well-connected. This is also the India where cops believe that a woman who drinks or who has consensual sex has no business complaining about rape. It is also the India where the “what was she wearing to bring it on,” is still used successfully in court an where judges take moralistic stances against those who are raped and advise them to get married to their rapists.
So it doesn’t matter if rape gets the death penalty. Or if at the point of death we cut the man down, whip him and string him up again ten times. It doesn’t matter because the conviction rates for any crime are so low. It doesn’t matter because as a nation we still don’t agree on what rape is.
I’ll tell you what it’s not. Rape is not about sex. What is it about? It is about control. And violence. And rage. And domination. It is about inflicting physical, emotional and psychological damage. The fact that it takes on the parody of a sex act is incidental. Sex is about pleasure. And it is about mutual choice and consent. Rape is about pain and the lack of choice and the steamrolling of consent.

We might ask why Indian men have so much anger against Indian women? So much anger that makes them leer and touch and molest and assault openly. Rage that makes them rape and attack? What lets them worship a goddess and kill his female fetus or his already born daughter? There is something, something that is making our male-female ratio plunge to alarming numbers. Something that makes them want to annihilate women. Not all men and not all women but enough to make me wonder. Why? And how can we reverse this trend. Can we? Can Indian women get justice? True justice, not reactionary, bandaid justice.

So the Delhi Police might blast away protestors—men and women—but they cannot blast away the truth. Rape is an act of violence. And it needs an appropriate punishment. What that punishment is can be debated later. What we need are profound changes so that survivors can live with their heads held high and perpetrators get appropriate sentences and the justice system is indeed about that most elusive thing of all—justice.

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.