Sat, 13 Aug 1994

Vicious crime

From time to time The Jakarta Post publishes a truly important photograph. About a month ago there was the picture of Yasser Arafat and a Jewish Rabbi bear hugging each other and grinning like a pair of long lost brothers (which of course they are). I've stuck this one up on my office wall as an image that cuts through all prejudice.

Then, just the other day, Aug. 4 to be precise, there was the photo of "The Culprit". This showed a stone faced Filipino seamstress seated, staring at the camera, while a police officer stood close by pointing his finger at her. Her crime? She mutilated her sleeping husband by cutting off his penis.

It has been pointed out that if this crime of obscenity and violence had been carried out in the United States of America "The Culprit" would be feted to a media circus, a legal circus, an offer to publish circus together with the backing of the feminist lobby (a lobby which now goes all the way to the White House). Not so in the Philippines. There, it appears, the old fashioned perception of vicious crime is still adhered to. Unlike in the U.S. where big money can buy smart lawyers who can be so successful in pleading mitigating circumstances that "The Culprit" becomes "The Victim".

An exaggeration? Hardly. In the recent Bobbit case in the USA that is exactly what happened. It was pointed out at the time that the Bobbit Case was likely to spawn copy cat mutilations. Are we seeing the start of an ugly international trend?