By pardoning the acid attack convict, who married the survivor the Bombay High Court seems to endorse alliance between attackers and survivors. As per a report in The Times Of India, the court pardoned Anil Patil, who was convicted in 2013, for flinging acid on a college girl and was sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court in Khed. Patil and the girl had known each other for long, but she declined when he proposed to her. This rejection and ensuing anger led to the acid attack which took place in 2010.
Patil has already served eight years in jail. According to the High Court, “Not only that. After marriage, the victim is required to take treatment from a plastic surgeon, for which the appellant has undertaken to donate his skin. We find that the appellant and the victim have decided to lead a peaceful life…It is just and necessary that the appellant and the victim be permitted to lead a peaceful life.”
Such a decision could give way to a dangerous precedent, where acid attackers would propose, marry their survivors and ask for a pardon from the court.
What this precedent doesn’t do, is solve the basic problem which leads to most acid attacks in India – our men’s inability to take rejection.
The problem with this conviction is that we do not know whether the girl was coerced into marrying her attacker due to peer pressure or out of love or as a last resort. While the convict says that they had reached the decision amicably, we know how the dynamics work in our country. Many girls give in to social pressure and marry their assailants or rapists because ironically, spending a lifetime with the perpetrator is the only chance of having a somewhat ‘normal’ life.
Not many girls, who have undergone a sexual assault or acid attack find gallant suitors and understanding matrimonial households, which do not see them as “tainted”. We have heard of cases where local Panchayat, etc order assailants to marry their survivors in the name of justice. Their families and society also accept such a decision because the attacker avoids jail time and the girl eventually gets married (which is the biggest concern over the survivor’s mental and physical trauma.)
How does one try to justify an alliance which stems from a heinous crime?
Does marrying the survivor mean that the attacker is remorseful about his actions? In fact, it ends up giving him what he had always wanted. Patil had attacked the girl after he faced rejection at her hands. Eventually, he is married to the girl who had hurt his ego by saying “no”. What kind of message does this decision send to the youth of our country?
Maybe Patil is indeed a changed man. Maybe the court saw something in him which we cannot on the basis of a singular news report. But in general, we cannot just let acid attackers walk free if they offer to marry the survivors. They must face the consequences of their actions by serving the sentence handed down to them by courts. As for the local bodies and members of society who advocate or even push such an alliance on a survivor, should teach boys to accept a “no”. Such matrimonial alliances will not lead to a recession in the number of acid attacks. Ending patriarchy and steering men and boys away from entitlement will.
Picture Credit: islamichelp.or.uk
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.