Rahul Bose won’t apologize for his reform comments
The actor came in for sharp, widespread criticism for his comment at a Delhi event on Friday, where he advocated reform for rapists, even Nirbhaya’s, if any of them showed ‘genuine remorse’
Chandna Arora (BOMBAY TIMES; March 11, 2013)
Men are integral to the fight for women’s safety — that was the message and theme of a ‘social media storm’ organised in support of the Ring The Bell campaign in Delhi. But that was overshadowed by the controversy around a statement Rahul Bose made, saying that even Nirbhaya’s rapists should be given a chance to reform if any of them shows genuine remorse.
“…We have to ask ourselves, of the five or six of the rapists of the December 16 (gang-rape), is there anyone who wants to change, who wants to reform … Nobody is saying about commuting any sentence, the sentence stands as it is, but while it stands, can we create a gender warrior among them?” he asked. “If anybody is open to reaffirmation, do we have it in us to subvert our patriarchal mindset and tell them that we are ready to confer even the right to reform to you, even if there is such a massive public upsurge against you?… If we have to… evolve as a civilisation further beyond the boundaries of India, then we have to look at forgiveness,” he said.
By the next morning, social media was buzzing with sharp reactions to this statement, with Rahul coming in for criticism about, as some tweets said, ‘defending rapists’. “@RahulBose1 should also tell us how exactly we can measure remorse. One can easily play a remorse card and get away with a serious crime,” said @Venkat_Kotagiri.
However, Rahul tweeted back that he stood by what he’d said. “Don’t know whether my statement on reformative justice for ALL criminals was misquoted — (haven’t read it), but am tweeting it in a series. All criminals should be sentenced according to the law, but while serving time I believe if any of them show deep, genuine remorse they should be given a chance to reform in jail. Rapists included. But if the perpetrator shows no remorse, then neither should we. And for all those asking how I would feel if a person dear to me was raped, the answer is: very sad, even angry. But if, over time, the perpetrator showed, deep, genuine remorse while in jail, I would find it in my heart to forgive him. As a civilisation, that’s the only way to evolve to a better, more peaceful place. Hate begets hate. Love, forgiveness even, stops that cycle. My timeline is full of hate. I understand, but will never apologise for my beliefs. Thanks for (if you have) reading. My beliefs never stem from a knee-jerk reaction. They stem from reading, seeking counsel from those wiser than me, feeling, analysing looking at history, at context and into my mind and heart. Thanks again.” Later, he added, “Suddenly flooded with love on my timeline. That’s what I was trying to say. Hate begets hate. Love shames hate. Always. Always. Please read ALL my tweets before jumping down my throat again!”
While Rahul’s reforms comment received an immediate reaction, the actor and other panellists at the event discussed many issues, especially the portrayal of women in the media, at the social media storm in Delhi later on Friday. The campaign seeks to mobilise one million men globally to commit to taking concrete action to end violence against women.