Faced with growing countrywide outrage over the Kathua and Unnao rape cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on the issue , promising justice for the “country’s daughters”.
However, securing justice for women in the country is easier said than done. Analysis of data on crime and punishment in India suggests that there are three big challenges when it comes to securing justice for women in the country: low trust in the police force, the slow pace of the judiciary, and the growing criminalization of politics, which undermines any serious attempt to reform India’s broken criminal justice system. These challenges pose a challenge for everybody in their quest for justice but they often prove insurmountable for those at the bottom of the social and economic hierarchy.
Consider the data on state-wise crimes against women registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The data shows that the rate of crimes against women moves in tandem with the overall crime rates across major states of the country. The highest amount of crimes taking place in the capital of the country- Delhi.
“I want to assure the nation that no criminal will be spared. Justice will be done. Our daughters will get justice,” he said at an event to inaugurate the B.R. Ambedkar memorial in New Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on the cases of gangrape and murder in Kathua in Jammu and Unnao in Uttar Pradesh to state that justice will be done and “not a single criminal will be spared in these cases.”
He was speaking at the inauguration of a memorial for Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. ‘We’re ashamed’
“I want to assure the country that justice will be done and fully. Our daughters will get justice. It is an internal failing of our society and not at all fitting for any society that claims to be civilised and we are ashamed of it. We must address this issue together as a society,” he said.
Referring to the apprehensions over the weakening of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, following the March 20 Supreme Court ruling, Mr. Modi said his government would not allow that to happen. “We are the government that strengthened this Act, increased the enlisted crimes against SC/STs that can be tried from a list of 22 to 47. Be assured we will not allow the Act to weaken in any way,” he said.
The BJP had been facing a huge political backlash on both issues with Dalit groups calling for nationwide protests on April 2 that saw violence and loss of life and political parties holding candle light vigils to protest the heinous incidents at Kathua and Unnao.
In a speech of over an hour, PM Modi not only listed details of how his government had imbibed the spirit of the “India that Babasaheb (Ambedkar) wanted” but also sharply attacked the Congress for the recent political attacks on his government.
“Whenever the Congress has its back towards the wall, it conspires using all means to eliminate those standing in its way. They have spread lies before every election that the BJP- led government will somehow end reservations. That is a lie. Earlier under Vajpayeeji’s government, and four years of mine, 12 years of my government in Gujarat and in all the States where the BJP is in government this hasn’t happened and will not.
But before every elections these lies are spread,” Mr Modi said.
What prevents greater investments in the criminal justice system, and in professionalizing the police forces?
The answer lies, at least partly, in the lack of political will. Given the growing criminalization of Indian politics, most political parties are not interested in such reforms. The proportion of politicians with criminal charges against them has been rising steadily over the past decade, shows the political scientist Milan Vaishnav in his 2017 book, When Crime Pays.