Well, here is my second attempt to today’s blog. The first one went almost into burn down mode, so it is not getting published, but it does have elements that might make it later.
Why mention this?
It seems that there are several areas where we could look for a probable initial solution to diminish the danger to women in India. Yes, a straight law and a ‘functioning’ police system there would work, but the overwhelming feeling I had was the oddity of it all. India is not a little village in the middle of nowhere. That place has a few more people than most. Almost 20% of the entire population of the planet lives there, so what to do?
So, now I mention the next fact that bothered me. NO ONE helped! Everyone was standing by all in a state of apathy. This got my goat! I’ll happily spend 20 years in prison for decapitating some rapist in the street, and I know I am not the only one feeling that way (I am likely the only psycho who would actually do it though). SO, if we consider the aggravation a population has when so many people live close together, then the inaction makes even less sense to me. I personally do not belief it would be a religious thing, because we were all children, and most of us become parents, so that primal rage to protect innocence is in all of us.
Good Samaritan laws are there to do something in aid of others. I personally belief that it is for the simple reason that the police cannot be everywhere all the time and the following duty to rescue that follows from it could drive down violence statistics and it also means that people will come to the aid of these innocent women. Isn’t it interesting that hundreds get raped, yet Richard Gere got a warrant instantly for a kiss? How interesting this looks against the rape victims who have to wait for week to get any kind of acknowledgement (especially by the police).
So let’s talk about the Good Samaritan Act.
The US does have Good Samaritan acts; however this does not seem to be the same for all states. In many states this umbrella will only protect professional assistance. Nurses, rescue workers are in those cases protected against liability (as it should), however, a bystander rendering assistance, could in theory get sued in several states, and under certain conditions. Volunteers are often protected (unless gross negligence can be proven).
The Good Samaritan act exists in almost identical forms in many Common Law countries. It is important to note that this is only their as a defence in criminal and Tort law cases. It is not a duty to rescue, a duty that professional workers are bound to (fire fighters, emergency medical staff and so on). We could see the Good Samaritan Act (GSA after this) as a moral compass for those who do not act. Do you really want to be bystander telling a judge in court that you wanted to help, but alas. That darn broken nail prevented you from applying pressure to a fatal wound bleeding out (of course some faint at the sight of blood, and that in not something they can control).
There are however places where the Duty to rescue applies to its citizens. In Germany and Canada (yes go figure), these two have a law in place that OBLIGES a person to give aid where needed, and as long as their assistance was given in good faith, this law also protects them from prosecution. It is a much stronger version then the GSA, I personally am on the fence whether we should go for GSA or Duty to Rescue. However, the Canadian version was short to the point and in simple English written, so it seems to be a simple ‘rule’ to follow. I personally think that it is not a bad thing to render aid when needed. Personally I must notice that Canadians tend to be much too nice and will give aid and render assistance at the drop of a hat (any hat). This makes life north of the US extremely liveable and friendly flavoured.
The Daily News and Analyses from Mumbai reported on the 6th of January “Coming to someone’s rescue — an accident victim or a woman violated — is fraught with risks. The good Samaritan will be summoned to the police station several times, sometimes at odd hours, forced to become an eye-witness, and seldom offered any protection, even if he/she is ready to testify in court against a dreaded criminal who probably has the means to hurt the witness.”
From these words it seems that there is no proper GSA active in India. This changes everything, and the fact that many newscasts seem to have ignored that little fact seems to bias us in the wrong way about India. When the need is there we would all happily help, but often not at our own expense. So it seems that in India the consequences to the financial stability (and therefor the family of the one helping) could be very consequential. It therefor becomes clear that this stops people people from rendering aid. Why was this not tackled?
The interesting part is that:
- I am not that clever (really I am not).
- This has been going on in India for some time.
No one in Indian Legislation, or the Bar council of India could have started this? This has been going on for years. It is time that questions should be raised quite loudly in this regard and in my humble opinion.
My first thought is that a group of people that others might have heard of at some point should speak out on this issue. For example Prime Ministers Julia Gillard (AUS), David Cameron (UK) and President Barack Obama (US). Then off course a few other names come to mind. Lord Neuberger, Lord Hope, Lady Hale to name just 3 of the 12 that come to mind at present. In that regard Australia might have a few titans to contribute to this cause. There is former Justice Michael Donald Kirby and not to forget Sir Gerard Brennan who is actually presently in office holding the position of Justice of the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong. These people are not just names to throw around.
The reason for the three UK justices I mentioned is because I have always seen England as the foundation of law in Australia (it actually is). They are also the roots of law for India, and even though most of us have adapted the protection through the Good Samaritan act, it is interesting that India does not have such an approach (or so it seems to me, so if I am wrong please correct me).
Now, it seems to me that others might be able to help in this regards. The UK at present still enjoys an annoying (read frustrating) amount of red tape all over the place (also locally known as rules of the game). These rules dictate that at some point people become members of an elite squad of people given long term paid vacation (aka pushed into mandatory retirement, and at times against their wills). Amongst these people are Lord Walker, Baron Walker of Gestingthorpe (as per march 2013) and Lord Hope, Baron Hope of Craighead (as per June 2013). These two are Legislative Titans!
As law lords they could be the experts to offer expertise with their views of Legislation, which could assist India direly needs for implementing a clear and quality Good Samaritan Act; one that might give actual support to the women of India, aiding their protection against the current waves of violence that they face. More important, the gang rapes would then be stoppable by all. It would be a strong first step to make things a lot better for women in India.
So, from the thoughts we all might have had on who to blame for their non safety, we moved to a how to fix this. I do think that additional changes are needed. As mentioned in the Daily News and Analyses, people who helped are picked up, have to give statements and it seems that the approach there is extremely discouraging to give aid. That part would have to change too. Combined it will bring improvement to the women in danger there.
Perhaps I am still too naïve at times, but if we selected the field of law, is it not in our interest to make the laws better, more just and more protective for victims?
These thoughts also reflect the thoughts of the founding father of modern India, the Honorable Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Inner Temple), stated as displayed at the bar council of India website “Be the change that you want to see in the world”, words to live by!