INDIA. New Delhi: It won’t be an exaggeration to say that rape cases in India are not just about violence, brutalization and a heinous crime against women but it seems to be becoming a culture fueled with deep-rooted issues like caste dominance and patriarchy. Issue of discrimination and atrocities are now leading to more cases of assault and humiliation. It is observed that there is a growing tendency to suppress women and humiliate people basis their caste.
Sexual behaviour against the will of women seems to be a part of that patriarchal behaviour. In the case of scheduled caste women, this issue gets more aggravated. People falling in the lowest segment in the social hierarchy and those who are considered untouchable are denied equal rights in many spheres. Caste related relegation, untouchability related subordination makes the problem of ‘Dalit women’ (Dalits are considered to be at the bottom of the caste hierarchy) different from other women.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s reported that 45,852 cases of crimes were committed against Scheduled Castes in India.
This report reflected a few alarming insights about India’s increasing rape culture and growing violence against lower castes. Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are decisively maintaining their positions on top of the crime chart against women. States like Uttar Pradesh and Haryana continue to drag attention for the growing violence in the state against women and lower castes.
Caste based crime
States like Uttar Pradesh are believed to be severely infected by caste discrimination. As quoted by ‘The Hindu’, Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 56,011 cases of crime against women in 2019 as per NCRB’s 2019 report of Crime in India. The recent rape case of Hathras which shook the nation is a clear example of how the influence of the power pyramids of government work in compliance with deeply patriarchal societies. After the 2012 rape case of Delhi, the government claimed to make law stringent for women safety. However, the weak implementation of these existing laws resulted in growing cases of rape and violence which is reflected in the NCRB’s 2019 report and reported by many leading news platforms.
Notably, the victim of the Hathras gang rape was a Dalit whereas the alleged rapists charged by police belongs to an upper Community, Thakur. Amidst the stories reported about the gang rape, a video surfaced online where Thakur community leaders were openly threatening the Dalit leader on camera and supporting the upper caste suspects. The Dalit leader has been speaking out in support of the victim and went to meet the mourning family which draw threats from the upper cast leaders.
There exists a section of people who somehow consider themselves progressive who conveniently disagree with the existence of caste discrimination but cannot deny this caste complex is deeply rooted in Indian society.
Strategy to deny and divert
Prime Minister Modi and his ministers have been making tall claims about women’s safety at various platforms. With the regular occurrence of incidents like Hathras or 2017’s case where BJP state leader Kuldeep Singh Sengar raped a young woman along with his brother and supporters indicates the poor state of affairs.
Uttar Pradesh police is constantly trying to prove that the Hathras case is merely a conspiracy to defame the Yogi government and promote communal violence in the state. Senior police officials claimed that an international conspiracy is going on in the state to malign the image of the current saffron leaders. To divert the focus from the real questions pertaining to the rape case, an international plot was pitched to the media by UP police. It was claimed by the police that international conspiracy intent to cause damage to the state’s peace and harmony. As reported by one of the leading national media platforms, this propaganda was no less than a false plot with several discrepancies.
Media as a tool to change perception
In UP, Yogi Adityanath’s government apparently hired a Public Relations firm to clear its stand on the Hathras case. Concept PR, the firm hired by Yogi govt was spamming inboxes of several journalists with a clarification note on behalf of the UP government indicating that the victim was not raped. This is one of its kind incidents where state government in desperation, roped in a PR firm to push a message which is contradicting the victim’s dying declaration. Yogi’s desperate move to manage the headlines and clarify the image of his government attracted criticism from across the nation and ignited the debate around the growing crime on the land of Uttar Pradesh.
Cases of rape, sexual assault and harassment are prevalent but narrative created and served by the government using various channels only depicts a contradictory image, a safe nation, safe society. The cases are under-reported and statistics made available in public narrates a different story of women in these states. Considerable delay in registering rape complaints involving any political entity or state lawmakers is also undeniable.
Media, police and politicians are one of the key pillars of any nation. India has again witnessed that these pillars have not only failed the women of this country and people belonging to the said lower castes but failed the entire nation by making a mockery of a rape victim’s death and her family’s grief. The burning question now is if Modi and Yogi’s ‘Hindu Rashtra’ is going to be safe for women and for the people considered as lower caste or the existing laws will fail them, yet again.