"GANG" is the collective noun for the lowest common denominator of the human species: our vermin, found in the drains of society.
Devoid of personal purpose, they seek to gather collective weakness into perverse strength in numbers, for no other apparent reason than to bring others down to the filth in which they eat.
We meet gang stereotypes in individuals in our everyday lives — if you find someone who has nothing good to say about anybody, it is because that person feels nothing good about himself. Soon enough you will find him gathering with like-minded accomplices, and a wretched alliance is born.
The barbaric gang-rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey is an act of savagery that cannot be tolerated in our world. There is no analysis required.
The specifics of the Delhi incident, as much as we can gather, have been widely reported in the world press. What shocks me is the focus of the analysis so far. Why are people being interviewed? Is there scope for opinion? Some self-proclaimed "god man", Asaram Bapu, has apparently suggested that the woman was equally to blame. That’s insanity.
Is this a "clash of the centuries", a "cultural debate" or a "society issue" that needs to be addressed or changed? Sure, but in the first instance it is an act of primal depravity and I can find no case for anything but universal condemnation, and consequence.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, by a vote of 46 in favour, none against and eight abstentions. South Africa had opposed the declaration and abstained in the final result. Thankfully, we’ve moved on from those dark days.
In essence, the declaration sought to achieve dignity and justice for all. Who can argue against that? Or even abstain — don’t you just hate people who abstain? There were many specific criticisms of the declaration, arising principally out of religious and East-West differences on the way of life. But all the good stuff was in there too: fundamental freedom of the individual, no distinction on the basis of race, sex, language or religion — you know, the basics that we have now all accepted as common sense. Well, most of us.
Of course there will always be different rules for different societies depending on the doctrine to which you subscribe. There certainly isn’t unanimity in our own beautiful mix of society in South Africa on whether a tribal, societal, religious, municipal or national rule should apply — but we seem to have found, within reason, tolerance (if not a celebration) of the differences between us. This is a necessary part of acceptable coexistence. But there should also be absolutes. There is no acceptable form of gang-rape and murder. There is no scope for debate or interpretation. There is no need to interview people — prove it and punish it, that’s all.
I have seen those being interviewed coming to the defence of the six accused perpetrators with the normal bullshit — she shouldn’t have been there, or they can’t be blamed for that. Rubbish. The act defies defence.
Brutal physical or mental intrusion into the life of a human being by another cannot be allowed to find any place to hide in society or any defence in structured argument.
So, I would like to propose an additional right to be entrenched in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: the right to your own space.
Access to our physical and mental space should be at our sole discretion.
You cannot engage with me without my consent, which I have the right to withhold, regardless of what I’m wearing or what your rules are. Stay at least 1m away, or you will be breaking the law (being squashed together in a crowded tube on the London Underground is not touching each other; it’s consensual togetherness with common purpose — you can wait for the next train if you like).
Everyday life is full of space invaders. You’d have to be devoid of sensory capacity not to be involuntarily exposed to advertising, noises, smells and the other consequences of living with others. I’m not talking about that.
I’m talking about your private space:
• You do not have the right to touch me.
• You do not have the right to come to my home.
• You do not have the right to send me stuff on my cellphone.
• You do not have the right to grant yourself any rights with respect to me because I have a tattoo or wear a short dress or a turban or carry a rosary or because of my hairstyle.
• You do not have a right to stay in touch with me even if at some time you did. If I ask you not to, you must stop, now — especially after we have broken up.
• You are not allowed to look into my private life — not my drawers, not my swimming pool, not my diary, not my messages and definitely not my photos.
• I am allowed to leave any place without explanation, at any time, just because I want to.
Leave me alone! I have enough friends!
But I’m serious. The force of law should be brought against anyone who interferes with my right to live my life as I choose.
We have to abide by the "laws of coexistence" of our chosen society, but of course then we should be able to move and associate freely.
Wherever we find ourselves, whatever the circumstances, women and men have the right to say no.
Of course, if you violate the rights to the space of others, you will lose the right to your own.