Wednesday, 21 January 2009

When Girls Marry Frogs, Collective Fines Are In Order

Last week, a couple of young girls in Tamil Nadu married a frog each in separate ceremonies. Apparently the idea was to prevent the outbreak of mysterious diseases in the village. It looks like every one had fun, the villagers, the frogs, the international media and in all probability, even the poor girls who married the amphibians. Indians al over the world hang their heads in shame and embarrassment. This incident is not without precedent. Over a year ago, a man married a female dog, in order to atone for having stoned two dogs to death fifteen years ago. A few years ago, a couple of donkeys were married in Bangalore in the hope of bringing rain.


However, the main difference between the young girls marrying frogs and the other two weddings is that minor children are involved and they are in no position to have given their consent to their weddings. It is all well and good to say that ignorance is the cause of such ridiculous practices and education will ensure such events don't occur. If we are to wait till all Indians are educated, we will have to wait for a long time.


I feel that incidents such as the frog wedding call for the imposition of collective fines. Mind you, collective punishments are banned by the 1949 Geneva Convention. However, the Geneva Convention came into force after the Second World War during which entire villages or even towns were demolished by occupying forces as punishment for any resistance against them. In my opinion, collective fines don't amount to collective punishment as defined under the Geneva Convention. Currently various Indian state laws provide for collective fines in the case of offences involving the practice of untouchability. In my view, it would be very much appropriate to impose a collective fine on the villages where the frog weddings took place.

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