Lessons from the Kathua and Unnao incidents: People must organize to fight for a State that guarantees protection for all women and girls

The recent incidents of rape and murder of a girl child in Kathua, Jammu, and the rape of a teenage girl in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, have been met with widespread public outrage. People have come out in large numbers in every corner of the country to demand immediate and severe punishment of those guilty of these crimes, irrespective of any high position they may hold.

The recent incidents of rape and murder of a girl child in Kathua, Jammu, and the rape of a teenage girl in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, have been met with widespread public outrage. People have come out in large numbers in every corner of the country to demand immediate and severe punishment of those guilty of these crimes, irrespective of any high position they may hold.

Various parties and politicians of the ruling class are trying to turn it into a Hindu-Muslim conflict. However, both these cases have nothing to do with religion. The fact is that the State machinery, which is supposed to protect all members of society, is protecting a privileged few. The State is permitting members of the ruling elite to commit horrendous crimes against members of the powerless majority.

The existing State does not protect women. It does not guarantee universal human and democratic rights. It only protects the “right” of a wealthy capitalist minority to exploit and plunder our land and labour. This is a political and economic problem. Religion has nothing to do with it.

In both the recent cases, people in positions of power and vested with the responsibility for the safety and well-being of the people in their constituency, have been among the accused – special police officers in one case and a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the other case.

Not only did the state officials fail to hear the repeated pleas for justice by the rape victim in Unnao, but the victim’s father was beaten to death by the brother of the accused MLA in front of the police, for having dared to pursue the case. In the Kathua incident, the entire community to which the victim belonged was threatened; they lived in fear for some time and then had to move away from that place to protect their lives.

Open support was given by ministers of the Jammu and Kashmir government to the perpetrators of the Kathua crime. The police officers who were to investigate the case conspired to destroy evidence. In Unnao, the MLA belonging to BJP was not apprehended immediately. The state government tried to shield him from arrest. He was taken into custody only after a lot of public pressure.

A clear conclusion to be drawn from such repeated incidents is that the existing State is incapable of guaranteeing the safety and rights of women. Crimes are committed with the active participation of those who are in power; in many cases, they are the organisers.

Women cannot always rely on the police to protect them from violent crimes such as rape. The judiciary does not ensure justice; in most cases, it protects the guilty and lets them go scot free. The so-called people’s representatives do not defend the rights of women. On the contrary, they often spout the most backward views which justify the discrimination and oppression of women. And many among the MPs and MLAs are themselves guilty of horrendous crimes against women, as has once again been revealed by the recent incidents.

In sum, these kinds of horrific crimes will continue until we, the people, organize to become the master of India and change the oppressive conditions.

Workers, peasants, women and youth have to establish people’s committees in every neighbourhood in urban areas and in every village in rural areas. We must work to build and strengthen the united struggle of all sections of people for their common interests and universal rights. We must prepare a united political force that can one day take charge and transform the political system and orientation of the economy. We must demand and fight for a State and economic system that guarantee prosperity and protection for all human beings, without exception. Our goal is to build a new India, a new State and economic system that guarantees prosperity and protection for all.

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