There is little doubt that women happen to be the most oppressed community in the history of mankind and this is one feature which is strikingly similar among all societies. The biggest dampener in the way of women empowerment has always been religious precepts. All religions without exception carry the guilt of actively discriminating against women and this stems from the contrarian approach embraced by religions in relation to women.
Women were given such a pious and divine status by religions that this divinity eventually led to them becoming societal outcastes. Values such as educational enlightenment, economic independence, political participation and health and survival of women which we hold in high esteem today were kept on the backburner by religion. Economically, religion made women so high in stature that they were not expected to go out, dirty their hands and work to earn bread for themselves. The onus of feeding them was put on the male members of their household. This economic dependence of women over men imposed by religion took away the necessity of their education. Religion sanctioned such piousness for women that they were proscribed from the grimy business of political participation. All these things literally excommunicated women from the daily hustle bustle of public life. Religion has made women just like religious books. We all know how worthless religious books have become in the modern era with only a handful bunch of people reading them and exceptionally few following them but one unusual thing is that no matter how much a person might be ignorant of the holy scriptures, he or she will always ensure that they are well kept and neatly covered in a beautiful piece of clothing and placed at the top of some shelf. This is the worst kind of formality which one can see.
Religious books are not being utilized for what they are meant ie for reading, understanding and following but they are instead being subjected to false honour and comfort of beautiful wrapping cloths. Similar is the case with religion’s approach towards women. Religion says that women are very divine, pious and high in stature but it gives them minimal rights based on botched up logics thereby ensuring their subjugation while simultaneously paving the way for a patriarchal society. This is the reason why I term religion’s approach towards women as contrarian.
The concept of justice in world society has evolved enormously and grown into a complex area of study. With increasing instances of crime the entire world has witnessed a steady rise in prison inmates. But the fundamental question which the world needs to address today is in relation to the goals achieved by sentencing people to serve long terms behind bars.
Many view the modern system of imprisonment as an official paid holiday for goons which is evident from the angry reactions of masses in relation to terror convicts. Statistics show us that India had as many as 3,60,000 prisoners at end of 2010. The critique of the system of imprisoning is based on two very simple logics, the anatomy of which is that the modern prison system fails to make any reformation in the prisoner and it also fails to extract due retribution. As far as the question of retribution is concerned, we cannot afford to go back to the ancient times where biblical principles like an ‘eye for an eye’ used to serve as the perfect way to extract revenge but what can be done to bring about vendetta and make the wrongdoers pay is by trying to create a global consensus on the utmost necessity of capital punishment in cases pertaining to mass murders and rapes. We cannot hoodwink ourselves by falling into the trap of human rights activists. It’s true that even prisoners have a right to be treated as humans but what we should not forget and what we overlook quite often is the victim’s natural human right to compensation and retaliation.
The second and more important question is obviously how to bring about a radical change in the character of the prisoner. Most intellectuals are of the opinion that mandatory community service for offenders is the way towards moulding them into better human beings but I view this approach with a bit of scepticism. Firstly, community service is not a new idea. During ancient times, people were never imprisoned but were converted into slaves and this is the principle threat emerging from promoting community service. There is every possibility of institutions exceeding their ambit by maintaining ownership of convicts as was done previously by many aristocratic regimes. Secondly, we cannot afford to let people accused of crimes like molestation to legitimately infiltrate into community service centers. The pool of prisoners can be broadly classified into two parts. Only the ones who are accused of lapses within the purview of civil law should be made to do community service. However, the challenge before us is to think of a feasible way with the help of which we can reform the real baddies who’ve indulged in extremely notorious crimes against humanity without compromising on security.