For My Indian Friends,
It should be noted, if you are from India, that the American judicial system is different from that of India’s. First of all, when someone is arrested for a crime, they are processed at a police station—and this includes a complete search of that person's body. The reason for this is simple: people, men and women both, often try to smuggle drugs or weapons, into the jail. Sometimes, men and women actually hide drugs and/or weapons in these body parts, and that is the reason that both male and female prisoners are searched.
The treatment of Ms Devyani Khobragade, a junior-level diplomat from India, was no different than it would have been for any other woman arrested by American police. This is the fact that my Indian friends should focus on; not that this treatment was in any way aberrant, it was normal. Perhaps it is her status that Indians feel she should have been dealt with in some other way, but her status is not that of a full diplomat, and she was held accountable for her supposed crime.
As a substance abuse counselor in a private hospital I had to do “body checks” when patients came back onto the unit. I did this for their sake, so that they did not bring drugs into the treatment center with them. This protected them, and protected other patients who were there to try to remain sober and free of drug use.
Of course, it is preferable that a female police officer do this particular search, especially when women are involved, however, if there are no female officer present at the time, a male officer will usually step up to perform the body search. No doubt, this kind of search is offensive to many, even to those petty criminals, but it is done to protect both prisoners, and those who are in charge of overseeing their safety.
Indians should realize that this particular woman, if she is found guilty, is subject to our laws, given that she is a minor player and is subject to prosecution. That said, this woman supposedly committed certain crimes, and as such, she is now in the hands of the American penal system.
She was arrested because there was enough evidence to bring charges against her, and it is assumed, until proven guilty, that she committed a crime or crimes worthy of incarceration, subsequent to her arrest. However, she did pay the bail and was released.
While such a search may seem offensive and aberrant to many, especially fundamentalist Muslims and Hindus, the search is in fact a common-place activity, designed to protect both inmates and those who care for them.
And, if Ms Khobragade feels she was humiliated, it is probably because she considered herself beyond the reproach of our justice system, but she is not, and was treated like any other person being put in prison; and she has no one to blame but herself, if she is in fact guilty of what she is accused of—of failing to pay her nanny what she was due, and of lying on her visa application. Having a little money and status in America means much less than it did forty years ago, and the serious corruption that exists amongst Indian politicians does not exist here.
I’ve traveled to India as far north as Manali and as far south as Mumbai, and I love India. I love her dirt and her grime, he grease and her smells. Her flowers, her smiles, and her people. However, Indians must understand that I too discovered many oddities, when I was in India, however, I did not commit any crimes, and so did not have to experience that.
If this woman sounds indignant, it is possibly because she is trying to shame the Americans instead of focusing on her own part in all of this. We do not, for example, allow cows to roam about in the streets; nor do we allow our women to uriniate on train platforms, in the middle of the day; both of which I saw constantly when in India.
That said, Indians should understand that our customs are ours, just as India has her own customs.
It is my hope that Indian men and women will not resort to the mob mentality I have often seen in India, and that Indians of sound mind will not attack Americans or American institutions simply because a criminal was arrested and body searched. In fact, meeting new situations and odd customs is a large part of traveling around the world, today, and the arrest of any diplomat should not lead to riots in the streets of New Delhi.