Respect for the Dead

March 14, 2018

I switched my phone on one morning, and scrolled through the photos to find a screenshot of the recipe I'd saved online, when I found a few new photos. The photos clearly showed a young man hanging from the ceiling with a noose around from a bedsheet. I recognised the man from the suicide news I'd read previous days. Someone had sent me photos of the suicide scene. Perhaps they wanted me to investigate the case! But I'm a lawyer, not a police officer, I thought. I went to my WhatsApp to find out who sent me the photos, and made a mental note to give a piece of my mind to the 'adhikaprasangi'.

The cell phone is an invention that has been most misused and abused, more than any other invention probably, and in the hands of a few ignorant, more dangerously so. Everyone has a cell phone and every cell phone has a camera, each better than the other. People have died trying to take selfies. Others have taken selfies with dead people! It is a fad to shoot each and every thing and share these days. There might come a time when people will kill a person just to take the first photo! People have lost all sense and sensibility to the point of insensitivity. In case of a rape or accident on the road in broad daylight, people do not help but instead shoot the crime and then share it on social media.

One fails to understand the perverse obsession of being the first to share the most gory details of a crime scene or a mishap without a second thought. We fail to think of the family of the victims. What if the suicide was of a family member? Would we still click pictures and share? What if a son died in an accident with his limbs dismembered? Would we share the news of his death by sending photos of the accident to relatives? What if a relative had committed suicide? Would we still consider it okay to circulate his vulnerable photos on social media? Does this 'chaltha hai' lukewarm attitude to people's personal tragedies seem okay then? What must the victim's friends and relatives feel when they find their loved ones' last photos plastered all over social media? What is the purpose of circulating the photos? Does it help anyone? Some people grant free access of their phones to their kids at home. What would happen if a small child happened to see the gruesome photos? Are we training them with new ideas at suicide? Do we think of this even for a second before foolishly passing the photos on? Perhaps if people used their brain as much as they used apps these days, the world would be a better place to live in.

People do not seem to understand that clicking such pictures is not only unnecessary but also irresponsible. Even the news media does not show such photos and in extreme cases, blurs the photos. Do we click pictures of strangers walking on the road? Or passers-by without their consent? Never. Then who gives the consent to click pictures of dead people? Why do we share graphic photos of the dead bodies mutilated in road mishaps or killed in a crime, to no end? What purpose does it serve? Even after death, a person has as much right to dignity as when alive. In fact Section 297 of the Indian Penal Code punishes acts of three kinds: Trespass on burial places, indignity to a human corpse, and disturbance in a funeral ceremony. From this we can clearly infer that a human body has the right to dignity even after death. Moreover, sharing such pictures of tragedies too is a form of gossip; only the format is jpeg. Remember that if one is not part of the plot, the problem or the solution, then one is not in a position to ‘share the news’. God clearly dislikes such ‘news sharing’. He says-‘You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people…’(Leviticus 19:16)

So, next time we point that camera at a dead person, let's think twice. Next time we forward those graphic photos, let's stop. Let's spread the same awareness to people who unnecessarily shoot murder/death/accident/crime scenes too. Let's resist the urge to stare at pictures of blood, death and gory details. Let's make others who send such photos aware on the rights to dignity of a victim and their family. Let's discourage such circulation in our friends, in our various Whatsapp groups and acquaintances. Let's respect the dead and their sacred last moments. Most importantly, when faced with such tragic news, instead let's do what Christians must: pray. Let's whisper a prayer for their souls. Let's include these mishaps and their victims in our personal prayers and at home. Let's pray for the misguided, the lonely and the ones contemplating suicide. Let's do something effective and beneficial for their souls instead. Let's stop the chain of forwarding such photos and instead type this-"Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace."


Hanita Pinto Archives:



By Hanita Pinto
Hanita Pinto has a masters in law from SDM Law College and has been in Mangaluru ever since her wedding in May 2012. She has earlier worked in Bengaluru as a legal compliance officer.
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Comment on this article

  • Alex, Belle

    Thu, Mar 29 2018

    Well written article, cascading the message will definitely bring some awareness in community

  • Fr Richard Mascarenhas SJ, Puttur/Mysuru

    Fri, Mar 23 2018

    This is a well written Article. Very thought provoking and an eye-opener. Kudos to the WRITER. I wish that our people read it and learn WHERE WE ARE and WHAT WE ARE DOING.

  • Jeevan Pinto, TRUGANINA

    Wed, Mar 21 2018

    Very nice article Hanita. So true to see that we have become insensitive to the victim and his family. Hope we all can something from this article.

  • Rita, Germany

    Tue, Mar 20 2018

    Well written.This disease is not only in India but am sure all over the country.One simply doesnt realize what they do to the effected person or their family.Many click at an accident and dont realize they themselves are going to cause another accident and deaths.Thats why here Police are trying to put heavy punishment to dont drive as needed and try to click a accident or injured person ,stopping their vehicle .Such people as onlookers block the road ,dont allow police or emergency vehicle come to the spot.One side smartphones are a blessing in emergenca other side a newsense .Let us make good use of it than to misuse it on the cost of persons involved in accidents or deadones.Respect others including deadones.

  • Henry Mascarenhas, Greenville, NC, USA

    Fri, Mar 16 2018

    Mohan, the civic leaders in our country are no role models either, they wash each other’s laundry on megaphones, the youth do not have salient moral examples to live by. Being the custodians of morality and harmony, certain religious leaders have resorted to becoming politically active deviating from their divine call. Our educational system lacks mandatory studies in Humanities and Social Sciences such as ethics, humanities and philosophy at higher secondary or collegiate level, these disciplines are a foundation to our nation’s cultural and civic future. The youth need guidance and direction, our religious and political leadership are preaching to the choir.

  • Henry Mascarenhas, Greenville, NC, USA

    Fri, Mar 16 2018

    India is a vast bastion of a close knit society where everyone knows everybody’s business, not as breach of privacy but as a societal norm. Our society coexisted in the absence of western definition of “Privacy”. We were never consciously aware of the intricacies of privacy when we divulged our age, medical diagnosis, our income and what we cooked and ate at home on a given day. Our societal norms did not promote the veil of privacy. Large scale gossip in the absence of the media such as Facebook, internet and such was the main vehicle how our society shared information without the fear of defaming or tarnishing one’s image or character without malice. We were the mavens, connectors and the salespeople. Our neighbors knew our family history more so than we did. Everyone seemed to know the composition of someone else’s genetic composition! Unfortunately lack of basic respect and consideration for each other, dead or alive has transcended to insensitive acts of cruel curiosity. As we tread towards being a litigious society, acts of breach of privacy may be curbed but not eradicated for ours is a society where meaningful transformation is painfully slow. Thank you for highlighting the aspect or privacy in your write up

  • Vinod, Vinod

    Fri, Mar 16 2018

    Well said Hanita. Ppl can be so insensitive to others.

  • Yvonne D'souza, Mulki / Mumbai

    Fri, Mar 16 2018

    Hanita, This is superbly written. An eye-opener !! I agree with you 100%. This is very sad and I hope people will see sense and stop this mindless activity.

  • Dr Mohan Prabhu, LL.D, QC, Mangalore (Kankanady)/Ottawa, Canada

    Thu, Mar 15 2018

    This is a well-written, thought provoking article and I wish to congratulate the writer. I too am appalled by the craze and gross misuse of "freedom to click" each and every situation, without respect to anyone's feelings or privacy, and this dangerous activity is indulged in primarily by youth and goes on not just in India but in other countries as well, including the US and Canada. The pity of it all is that those who click the pictures and put them in the electronic media such as Facebook or twitter for any one or all to see, remain anonymous under the cloak of pseudonyms and invented cellphone numbers.

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