<%-- Page Title--%> Reflection <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 136 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 2, 2004

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of the


What makes humans unique in the animal kingdom, other than contraception, is its judiciary. I have seen cats reprimanding kittens; but they do it secretly, as if breaking a certain feline law is itself shameful. Only we employ fellow human beings to punish humans; and unlike cats and co., we do it quite openly. Not only that, we want these incidents to be highlighted.

The only plausible conclusion that can be drawn from this is: committing a crime, getting punished for that and, sometimes, getting away without being punished are three salient features of the game. Another analogy can be drawn; whatever the criminologists suggest, crime is solely a human proposition.

Discipline and its relationship with punishment date back to the early days of the history of Man. God forbade Adam to eat the fateful apple, he broke it (human behaviour, you see) and punishment followed. Eating apples is not a crime nowadays, in fact from Judaism to Islam no religion imposes a ban on the popular fruit. Laws change with the advent of modernity and human behaviour.

Like life, laws are not static and its dynamism has generated contradictions in history. During slavery, laws were made to save the social system, and anyone found breaking it was brought to the dock. When slavery was abolished by feudal lords, it made its new laws; and slave trade became illegal. Ironically early feudal societies were based on bonded labour, religious bigotry and intolerance. Feudal laws were made to save the ownership of firms operating on bonded labourers; several labour upsurges were brutally crushed and they were tried under the law of society. And that law, indeed, defended the "right" of the feudal lords.

When feudalism was abolished by the bourgeois (the French revolution was the first of its kind and several more followed across Europe), it promised a society based on Liberté, Égalité and Fraternité. But laws were enacted against the new class that the society itself had newly made, the proletariat.

When smaller nations across the world had started to break the shackles of colonialism, the First and Second World War took place. The social system that was established to defend the rights of people on the basis of liberty and equality had produced the Holocaust and resulted in the death of thousands of innocent lives. But at the same time the World Wars brought about a positive change too. With Soviet communism on the doorstep and strong anti-imperialist movements brewing in the colonies, European bourgeois left the colonies, in some cases, brutally defeated by the locals.

New Zealand was the first country to introduce the concept of a welfare state; in the early part of the century, the country had established a social system that guaranteed the rights to have free education and unemployment benefits.

Soviet communism brought another change in European politics; welfare states were formed all over the continent; countries like Norway and Sweden enshrined the socialist principle of "from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs" in their constitution. The move became popular in other countries, with France, Germany, and Spain following suit. England became a welfare state in 1945.

Laws were changed, too, to make it more humane, the death penalty was abolished. Ironically, the country that acted as a catalyst to this change, the Soviet Union, didn't abolish the death penalty.

Establishment of a welfare state is a far cry in Bangladesh, labelled as one of the most corrupt and crime ridden countries in the world. Crimes that have been committed in our country are quasi feudal in nature; be it rape or acid throwing, every crime committed against women here manifests the presence of feudal remnants in our society. But the way the state has been reacting to crime against women is itself ludicrous. Laws are being enacted almost every year, death penalties being handed down to alleged perpetrators. But the saddest part of the story is that crime has not abated but increased in frequency.

Unfortunately, anti-women behaviour lies in the very fabric of the social system. Ours is a society, which views women as nothing but reproductive machines. The movies we watch and the music we listen to portray women as sexual objects; the society encourages machoism, women are seen as confused and frail.

Our infatuation with machoism coupled with sheer exploitation and poverty has contributed to rising crime and unemployment. But, again, the state has reacted to it by enacting new laws.

All the so-called listed criminals of our underworld have political affiliations either with the ruling party or with the main opposition. Both the parties need their help to run the parties effectively; in lieu of the "help", the parties turn a blind eye to their activities. A parallel government runs the country; with the "listed criminals" playing the roles of both judge and the jury. Criminals rule the country by proxy, they get the politicians to fight and die for them.

They get caught sometimes, being on the wrong side of the fence; and, in rare cases, brought to the dock-- death penalties and life sentences are handed down. But the "godfathers" remain at large, and, sometimes, they are elected to the parliament to enact new laws against rising crime.

Life remains unchanged for the ordinary citizen day in and day out. Some rules of the game, perhaps, never change.


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