|Pic by Lee Pratt in Facebook Hoax|
People are angry in the comments: "dirty men of village council" order such inhuman punishments, we must stop them! Click to stop it! News outlets pour out more and more indignant comments over this "sentence decided and delivered by an all-male, unofficial council known as a khap panchayat"
This prejudiced comment about dirty old men made me try to inquire whether the council really did order such a rape.
And what I found out is:
- The village council is not all male. In fact, it is 80 % female. Its leader is a woman.
- The council says that no order for rape has been given .
- The lawyer who made the petition on behalf of the girls had not actually ever been to their village, nor spoken to the council.
- And even the family of the girls who were supposedly ordered to be raped are now saying they are unsure if the ruling was made: Family members said in interviews with Reuters the information that the council made such an order may have just been gossip. "It is all hearsay, we don't know if this actually happened," said Dharam Pal Singh, 55, the women's father and a retired soldier. "We heard it from other villagers."
The one problem that I think is genuine is the slowness and inefficiency of the Indian official justice system. Cases drag on for years and years. That is an issue that would be fair game for a sane social justice warrior. But it's more simple to chant "Click to stop it!" than to say "Let's find a solution for how to make the Indian courts of law work better".
So, it seems to be quite all right to denigrate dirty old men with lies, if the underlying motive is good, getting money for multinational organisations who make a business of this kind of hoaxes. They say they work for human rights, so it must be true? Amnesty "stands by its claims". Of course, because it can.
There is a silver lining to the cloud, though: old-fashioned journalism wins. Thousands of papers, magazines and on-line news outlets have repeated the dubious claim, but Reuters actually sent a journalist on site. A journalist who found out who the people are. Journalist who asked questions. And provided a report.
In my mind, that report gives an outcome 6-0 for Reuters against social justice warriors.