Same old: Misogyny crossed with caste hatred
There is a surreal quality in the unceasing crimes against women as in their cruelty. Sharpening laws, people’s protests or routine pieties from politicians make little difference. The cruelty is exacerbated when misogyny is crossed with caste hatred or class dominance. Uttar Pradesh is reputed for sexual crimes of extraordinary violence, perpetrated often on Dalit women. Data from the National Crime Records Bureau show that, in 2019, the state led in the number of crimes against women, in crimes against girl children and in crimes against members of scheduled castes. The recent death of the 19-year-old girl, gang raped and fatally injured in Hathras allegedly by high-caste men that she named before her death, led to public protests. That matters little. One of the features of rapes in UP is the behaviour of the police and other powerful elements in the aftermath. A rape survivor’s father can be taken into custody and allegedly killed, the car carrying the survivor and the her lawyer can collide with a truck with blackened plates and two of the girl’s relatives die — the accused in that case was a former Bharatiya Janata Party member of the legislative assembly — or a survivor can be set ablaze when out walking.
The police, according to reports such as that from the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, delay in registering rape complaints if the complainant is Dalit. In the Hathras case, the family said that the police cremated the girl at night without the family’s consent, while keeping its members locked up in their house. An uncle alleged that he was forced to attend so that the police could show the family’s presence at the cremation. In the first 10 months of Yogi Adityanath’s regime from April 2017 to January 2018, rapes jumped 26 per cent over the previous 10 months under Akhilesh Yadav’s rule. Rapes, especially of Dalit women, indicate not only misogyny and caste domination, but also the administration’s abuse of power. The chief minister’s directions to display the names of those ‘involved’ in crimes against women at prominent crossings and have women police punish such criminals show that he believes women are fools. Meanwhile, another gang rape and subsequent death of a Dalit woman has been reported from UP’s Balarampur. Another addition to the NCRB statistics.