October 16, 2016
June 1, 2014
Sculpted features and lips cherry red against his sombre suit, Ched Evans seething, subsiding, standing next to his solicitor reading a statement, close to the fiancée who stood right by him throughout.
Convicted of rape in 2012, now exonerated after a re-trial, in the meantime the Welsh footballer served two-and-a-half years of a five-year prison sentence.
Three in a bed that early summer night. Hardly enough floor space in Room 14 for three young muckers to be anywhere else. Bedspread’s the corporate colour purple. Legs spread and calling the cum shots, he has always said. Too drunk or drugged (not by him) to have given her consent, she has always maintained.
But how did they end up here, in a scene of well-used furniture and a woman who feels ill-used? The chronology is clear enough: exiting the Zu Bar, dark interior and don’t look at the carpet (now permanently closed); wobbly walk across seaside town well-past its best. And was there kissing in the back of the cab?
Timing is key to the court room. But our line of questioning is of a different order: how is this tawdry scene the counterpart of what we often see, for example, on the football field – flair, determination, even nobility? Aside from who said what or not that night about having sex, if This Is Your Life – the life of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’ LLareggub but spelled the other way round – the wonder is that any of us consent to it.
Strange fruit hanging from the mango tree. Villagers gathered in a circle around its bitter crop, congregating as if for Harvest Festival. In the front row a girl of seven or eight looks up, awestruck.
awful thing that strikes me, looking down at a photograph of
this scene in Northern India, is the
beauty of the
two human forms which the
young girl is gazing up at. Dressed in colourful shalwar kameez (turquoise and crimson and purple), they float upon the
breeze, heads bowed in a picture of
modesty.But these are the
corpses of the
two teenage cousins of
Katra, a remote village in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh; low caste Dalits who were gang raped, then hung until dead with ropes slung over the
lower branches of
a nearby tree – in a grove of
mangoes only 250m from where they lived.
When the low caste girls were first reported missing on the night of 27 May, their plight was ignored by police officers who belong to the higher caste of Yadav. Even when they were found murdered, the police were slow to respond; hence the solemn vigil ofpoor villagers who would not allow the girls’ bodies to be cut down until their death was registered across the world.
Since then the authorities have been keen to be seen leaping into action. Arrests made, suspects displayed; two of them shown roped together – boyish, sheepish and unkempt; strung out by what is happening to them (but at least they have not been strung up).
In the cool of the evening, the girls had gone out into the fields to defecate. Not that Father was in the lavatory reading the News of the Screws. Pull the other one! In theplace they called home there simply is no sanitation.
Hours later they were swinging free of the trials and tribulations of rural poverty: no longer yoked to heat and dust; cut loose from the dumb repetition of agricultural toil.
Continually coercive drudgery, lives lived by a thousand and one degradations, punctuated by short and nasty episodes of brutal violence. This combination amounts to a whole way of being for millions of the rural poor.
Didn’t it kill the two teenagers of Katra as much as the criminals who kidnapped them?