Ma’at, the daughter of Ra, the sun god and Hathor his wife, may be the earliest recognized use of a deity holding a scale to represent justice. A few thousand years later the Greeks looked to the goddesses Themis and Dike to balance court cases, then the Romans envisioned Justina as a blindfolded law-giver carrying a set of scales and a sword.
I do not know why humans tend to look to women as the bearers of truth but my guess is it is because we all had mothers and most likely we realized early on that what mom said was the law. Dads may occasionally get to brandish a sword but all smart husbands know when the rubber meets the road mom rules.
Regardless, all those female judicial goddesses are portrayed trying to balance the scales of justice. One does not need to be a judge in a court to understand law is a matter of balancing interests, the yin and yang of life.
While every court case can be better understood applying the lessons learned from the study of balancing competing interests, rape cases can be jarring evidence of why tipped scales and slipped blindfolds have represented failed justice systems for thousands of years. The balance of power between a victim of a sexual assault and her or his assailant is often greatly weighted in favor of the antagonist. And not only does life on the streets usually favor the assaulter, when the legal system gets involved often such things as the wealth, power and fame of some defendants tilts the scales in their favor vis a vis other defendants. Therefore, not only does Lady Justice sometimes have her scales akilter against the victims of an assault, she also disproportionally imposes more severe sanctions on less well situated criminals, a dual slippage of the blindfold and an unfair tilting of the scales.
If a defendant has means and connections he or she may be able to avoid even being charged or, if charged, may be able to avoid jail or even a conviction by paying money directly to the victim. It is certainly justice to compensate victims but is not justice to buy one’s self out of jail. Such tilted scales can lead to a cynical belief in society that Lady Justice is no better than some other practitioner of situational ethics. And if society comes to believe that a thumb on the scales is to be expected, the goddesses will lose their symbolic moral authority and the justice system will be seen as just a system.
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