Editorial

Sexual Violence Against Women Of Lower Cast In india

Sexual violence against women of lower castes has been an obtrusive phenomenon of Indian society. The linkage between rape and caste has been rather intimate. Rape and violation of women’s bodies have been routine in both urban and rural contexts in India. Women’s bodies are primary sites to contest ideas about the honour of community and also assert hegemony in one form or another. Within this framework, Dalit women’s position continues to be more precarious and greatly marginalised. Raping Dalit women has been a familiar feudal practice in rural India largely as a measure of punishment meted out to poor peasantry whenever they defy or confront existing power relations. The neoliberal context has only escalated the tension between upper castes and Dalits in many rural pockets of India. In Hathras, the upper caste Thakurs organised panchayat in support of the accused to showcase the caste solidarity against the Dalit family and to vilify the rape-narrative of the victim. NCRB report estimates crime against women increased 7.3 per cent from 2018 to 2019, and crimes against Scheduled Castes also went up by the same percentage in the same period. A total of 4,05,861 cases of crimes against women were registered in 2019, showing an increase of 7.3 per cent over 2018 (3,78,236 cases). Majority of cases under crime against women under IPC were registered under ‘cruelty by husband or his relatives’ (30.9 per cent), followed by ‘assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty’ (21.8 per cent), ‘kidnapping & abduction of women’ (17.9 per cent) and ‘rape’ (7.9 per cent). The crime rate registered per lakh women population is 62.4 per cent in 2019 in comparison to 58.8 per cent in 2018. An austere reading of the NCRB data shows that there has been an escalating incidence of sexual violence against Dalit women in the last decades. There is an abysmally low rate of conviction rates in rape cases. Rape as a symbol of impunity is an engaging question for all of us. Silence renders these grotesque sexual acts invisible. Therefore, it is important that the political elite bespeak caste-provoked rapes and bring it onto the conspicuous agenda of the state. The Hathras rape incident has evoked a nation-wide unity amongst various groups to come together to express solidarity against caste and gender-based atrocities. The larger question that has intrigued the collective conscience is whether justice would be done? Political leaders of Congress, Bhim Army, Left groups and AAP have visited the victim’s home to express their anguish and their support to the fight for justice for the victim. In Hathras, due process of law was a suspect as there was rampant criminal intimidation and alleged tampering with evidence as medical reports of the victim are being construed as inconclusive for proving rape. Thankfully the Allahabad High Court took suo-moto cognisance of the matter in the light of the high handedness of the state in “perpetuating the misery of the family and rubbing salt in their wounds” after the death of the victim. It is a pointer towards the fundamental nature of public institutions in perpetuating inequality. AAP MP Sanjay Singh in his visit today has spoken voluminously about the need to have faith in the veracity of the dying statement of the victim and calls for a Supreme Court judge monitored inquiry into the incident. This debate brings to the forefront the urgency of insulating law enforcement agencies from political and other commitments. What would be proportional punishment for the heinous crime? Many agitating citizens groups have demanded capital punishment for the accused. The threshold question remains whether capital punishment can be an effective deterrent to such crimes. Largely, the death penalty is seen as a populist offensive that seeks to quick-fix punishment. As a deterrent punishment, it has not been competent as the crimes against women have been spiralling even after the passing of the Criminal Law Amendment, 2013. A more vigorous campaign that challenges tacit sanction for rapes, that challenges women as subordinate to men and that dismisses the idea of public shame of women’s bodies will cease subversion of justice. When rape becomes a political power play, every woman in this country has ostensible reason to fear, not just the rape-victim. It becomes certain that the impunity of the crime shadows the lives of all women in this country.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

To Top