If you had to choose between Peace and Justice, what would you pick?

Would you pick Justice, the limb of social protection that would let you run after and hunt down the one who wronged you, and punish him? Or would you pick a passive route where you do nothing, but seek closure by forgiving him from within? In the former, would his penalty make a difference to you? In the latter, would just forgiving him do enough for you to move on?

Whether in a country where war reigns and one can only hope for peace, for the indictment of a war-criminal makes no difference after all the suffering, or in a state of peace, where criminals commit a crime and are taken to court by the justice system, Peace and Justice spell completely different things. And that has nothing to do with the inherent value each stands for - but for the way our systems work. If one looked at the facets inherent in both, Justice and Peace cannot exist without the other.

But as we tread slowly from a time where greater crimes were driven by self-determination and the oppression of it, to a time where greater crimes are hate-driven, the two concepts have moved terribly apart. In any conflict zone, though international tribunals want desperately to pursue justice, the people want to settle for peace – because there’s been too much war. That’s for a large-scale crime. But where there are crimes in the household – domestic violence, sexual abuse, deprivation and family feuds with cheating reigning strong – what works? Justice? Or Peace?

A survivor of violence simply wants Peace. Peace of mind, Peace to move on, freedom to move on, Closure. The country that we are, we have degenerated into punishing the victim, and not the offender. The victim is stigmatized and pockmarked, pushed into a dark corner because she is treated by society as though she committed the crime. But the criminal himself? He enjoys the company of socialites, parties to glory and wines and dines in style, while society still places him on a pedestal.

With all of this, who would want Justice, really, if a trial by society itself shuns the victim? We push for judicial trials, demand court-time, and then believe that everyone deserves to have their story told and have justice served. But for the real Indian victim, is this even possible, or is this even the right way? What justice can you serve to a woman who has been beaten so badly that she cannot stand up straight, by still protecting her from a trial by media? What justice can you give to a child who has been sexually abused that she aged before her time, by still protecting her from stigma? What justice can you give to an estranged father, whose daughter has been kidnapped by her mother, and kept far from him, by still protecting him from society’s predispositions and aspersions?

I don’t see progress happening unless there is a mix of the two. Having to choose between peace and justice is such a travesty of what the values themselves stand for. Justice is giving one what his due is. Peace, well, is a state of calm, a state of non-conflict.

Where Peace and Justice are really, tangibly possible, capable of BOTH taking form, that would be a place where we are truly empowered, and that is where we should aim to be.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Ending Gender-Based Violence 2012.


Dear Kirthijay,

They are both crucial to humanity. In a lost world like ours... it is hard to understand what is peace and what it justice. Our societies big or small are all in turbulence.

At least, as individuals we have the power to become peaceful with and be just in our own actions and thoughts. I wonder when we can look within and see how much we have in our minds, bodies and souls.

When hatred and anger bypass forgiveness and love then we only see what we see in Palatine, Israel, Afghanistan and the list can go on. If we look at the smallest set of a society 'the family" Just check how much anger, hatred and jealousy is within this small entity.

The more we discuss these issues with clear and calm minds then only we can slowly start to see a favourable future.

Keep going and never give up. I am glad I came across your post.

With love, Amei


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Hi Kirthijay, Thank you for your thoughts! I've read through your article several times and am struggling to even find my own answers to all of your questions. They are such good questions to ask. I would be very interested in hearing women who have been victims of violence respond to your ideas.

Aiming at a place where we are truly empowered as you said, each woman, one by one, will be finding her voice. Keep asking the hard questions! Much love, Heidi

Thank you so much, Heidi. I completely agree - I would love to hear the voices of women who have survived violence. Thank you for reading and for commenting, Heidi!

What wonderful photographs you take!