The Indian State cannot be relied upon to ensure the security and dignity of women

The brutal rape, murder and burning of a young veterinary doctor on the outskirts of Hyderabad on 27th November has been widely condemned by people all over the country. In numerous protest actions held in towns and cities across India, women and men have come out in large numbers, expressing their outrage and holding the state responsible for the utter lack of safety for women in public places. They have demanded a thorough investigation and strict punishment for those proven guilty of the crime. Through street protests and social media, people have denounced the state for failing to provide security to women.

Protest against rape and murder of Hyderabad vet
Protest against rape

The gruesome crime revived in people’s minds the tragic memories of the barbaric gang rape and murder of a young woman in a bus in Delhi in December 2012 and countless other cases of rape and attack on women all over the country. At least 7 other crimes of rape of women were reported from different parts of the country in the same week. These included infants, middle aged women and teenagers, one of whom was even burnt alive by her tormentors. Telangana state alone is reported to have had several cases of rape and murder in the week preceding the incident.

Women in our country are perpetual victims of the most barbaric crimes of sexual abuse and assault. On the streets, in public spaces, while travelling in trains and buses, women face constant threats and attacks, harassment and humiliation. In most cases, these attacks on women are carried out with impunity. The perpetrators feel assured that the state will take no action against them. Given the terrible pressure of society on women, where women are themselves blamed for every attack on them, the perpetrators operate with the assurance that that no one will dare to come forward to defend the women, that the women and their families will not speak up.  The police and authorities are, in the majority of cases, indifferent and insensitive to the trauma of the victims of such crimes, casting doubt and suspicion on the victims and their families and harassing them in every possible way. Women are forced to suffer intense humiliation and relive their trauma many times over, when they pursue the fight for justice.

Ministers and state officials as well as leading members of various political parties regularly make statements insulting women and justifying crimes against women. They blame the women themselves for the crimes and completely exonerate the state and the social system they defend. Politicians, ministers and state officials are often themselves the perpetrators of horrific crimes against women, using their power and position to get away scot-free. Women are sexually exploited in the name of religion and faith. Women continue to face sexual harassment at the work place, from employers and persons in positions of power and authority. They are under intense pressure to keep quiet about it for fear of retribution or losing their jobs. Women have been fighting for many years against sexual harassment at the work place, forcing the state to agree to certain safeguards, which still largely remain on paper only.

The armed forces and security agencies of the state regularly commit crimes against women with impunity, in the name of “searches”, “combing operations”, “catching suspected militants”, etc. Women in areas officially declared as “disturbed” or under Army rule live in constant dread of humiliation and predatory attacks, with no legal recourse.

Women are special targets of sexual and other forms of violence, as part of organized attacks against dalits, tribals and specific communities, which are carried out with the full connivance of the state. Women are among the most vulnerable victims of repeated state organized communal pogroms.

Nothing is done to punish the guilty and prevent such crimes. The government resorts to the time-tested tactics of appointing commissions, increasing police deployment, setting up help lines and introducing special programs for women. Thousands of women who face daily threats of attack, can speak for the utter futility of trying to get help by calling the much publicized police help line. Through such measures the state tries to divert and diffuse the anger of those who are demanding justice and an end to violence against women.

In the present case, a Telangana state minister blamed the victim for having called her sister for help on the phone, and not the police help line! The family of the victim had to face harassment and insult at the hands of the police and authorities.

Women and men across all sections of society are demanding an end to this violence on women. People are out on the streets demanding that the state fulfill its responsibility of providing security to women. People are demanding that crimes against women must be investigated, free from any kind of bias or prejudice and without harassment to the victim. People are demanding that those proven guilty of crimes against women must be severely punished, regardless of their position and social status.

Communist Ghadar Party calls on women and men to step up the struggle for equality and justice, for the Navnirman of India – that is, for the establishment of a new system in which women are treated with dignity and respect as productive human beings and for their special role in reproducing the new generation.

No to state terrorism in the name of “justice to women”!

In the name of “justice”, an act of blatant state terrorism was carried out in the early hours of December 6. Four persons who had been arrested as “suspects” in the Hyderabad rape and murder case were killed by the police in an early morning “encounter”. This “encounter” had all the hallmarks of a custodial murder, made to look like an “encounter”.  The suspects were in police custody and unarmed. Therefore, the claim of the police, that the suspects were killed when “they attacked the police” at the crime scene where they had been taken to “recreate” the events, is an outright lie.

There have been reports that several MPs of various political parties have applauded the police action saying that “justice has been done”, the crime has “been avenged”. However, what has been carried out is totally unjust and barbaric.

Through this act, our rulers are sending the message to the women and people of our country that – the state cannot ensure your safety on the streets. It cannot investigate crimes against women and prove who are the guilty and punish them. The state cannot ensure that women who demand justice do not face humiliation and indignity and persecution. It cannot guarantee women a life free of fear and indignity. In response to the demand for justice, all that the police can do is catch some people on the basis of mere suspicion and torture them to extract any kind of “confession” that suits the purpose. If they are ordinary citizens who cannot defend themselves, then the police will kill them in fake encounters and announce that the criminals have been killed. This can be done even when the police have produced no proof or evidence that they are indeed the criminals guilty of the particular crime. They may be innocent people but the state can claim that “justice has been done”! The state has absolved itself of its responsibility. But if the persons charged with the crime are well-off people connected with the positions of power, then even if there is overwhelming and irrefutable evidence against them, the police and law enforcement agencies of the state will destroy evidence, buy off and silence witnesses and not prosecute the guilty.

This is the standard operating procedure of the police and law enforcement agencies of the state. This is what is routinely practised in the name of “due process of law”. Victims of every kind of injustice face this again and again.

This is nothing but outright state terrorism, in the name of “justice”.

This state systematically carries out custodial killings and “encounter killings” of people. Countless innocent people have been murdered by the police in fake “encounters”.

The same state, which is justifying the encounter killing in the name of “fast track justice” and responding to “people’s demand”, has not yet punished those guilty of the crime of organizing communal bloodshed across the country, despite the undaunted struggle and demand of people for punishment of the guilty and overwhelming evidence of guilt provided by its own commissions of enquiry!

Women and men, the vast majority of people in our society refuse to accept this state terrorism as “justice”. We demand that the state and all its components – the government in power, the police and law enforcement agencies, the judiciary – should be accountable and answerable to the people for their role and responsibility towards the citizens. We demand a thorough investigation of every crime against any section of our people.  We demand that the evidence be made public and appropriate punishment be given to those whose guilt is established.

Communist Ghadar Party calls on our people to step up the struggle against state terrorism and for the Navnirman of India – that is, for a new system in which the human rights of all, including the right to conscience, will be respected and guaranteed as inviolable.

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