Justice for the voiceless

When I think about justice, my mind goes back to the story of the brave lawyer, Atticus Finch in the book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird Bird’. It highlights how collectively, justice was denied to a poor, innocent black man accused of raping a white girl. While the law took its course, it failed to uphold the right of the innocent by majority vote.

Thus, it failed the community as a whole. When justice is denied to one, it is denied to all because it sets into motion the repeat of the same mistake, like a broken record. Functional but perpetually off key.

It is the prevailing culture of the times that determines the outcome of justice in courts, not the spirit of the law. One has the right to freedom, dignity of labour, voice in the community…but consent overrides it all. Think about it, many families sell themselves into slavery, child labour, trafficking and the flesh trade. How much of this makes the news? More closer to self, how many of us are genuinely shocked, appalled or horrified?

Our numbed conscience bears witness to the truth- it maybe unjust and against the law but where consent is implied, whether because of duress or coercion, it is tolerated.

The problem we face as a society is that of a broken record. If we tolerate it for those who don’t have a voice, we will soon be ‘forced to tolerate’ a lot more because of the voice of the majority.

Like Pornography- technically against community standards of decency but universally tolerated, that now it’s become mainstream. Notwithstanding that the porn industry is rife with abuse of all kinds, trafficking, forced prostitution, sex slavery and blackmail. It is tolerated under the guise that the actors have the consent implied. Really??? Did you check if they sign a consent form? Were the actors really above 18? Did they voluntarily audition for the role or get forced into it? Injustice of any kind dehumanized one set of people over another.

I was questioned by a male colleague what was wrong about porn.  I said it normalized deviant behavior and abuse. I cited some of the awful rape cases in the news where the perpetrators watched adult footage on their phones and enacted it. To that I was informed, that porn would have caused just ‘one or two’ rapes. I was taken aback. I told him that didn’t realize people have now become a statistic.

Maybe it’s easier that way. To dehumanize a person, strip them of their soul and humanity and convert them into a number. Because if the worth of one human being is greater than the cost of business, industry, entertainment, amusement, then we all will be forced to sit up and address the cry of the innocent. We will all be forced to let go of our conveniences, our carefully manicured lives, our low cost apparel, our perfect routines. We will weep the broken, fight for the down trodden, uphold the cause of justice for oppressed and build a true community of equals.

It will be hard road. The personal cost will be high. At the same time, you will realize as Atticus Finch did- that you are leaving a legacy for the future. A better one then what we have today. A well-earned one where justice and freedom are enjoyed, treasured and valued because a price was paid and not at the expense of others.

Remedia Fernandes | remedia.fernandes@gmail.com

Remedia is a corporate communicator by profession and a food blogger by passion. You’ll know it when you visit her FB page ‘Who moved my plate’. You’ll find her at various eats in the city fanatically taking ‘impressionist’ food art pictures and sampling desserts. She’s a die hard Tolkienist, chaivinist, chocoholic and animal person.

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