Law and Disorder

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law and disorderIf you have been following news on India, you have read about the heartbreaking rape and murder of two teenage girls in rural Uttar Pradesh. The case brings to a confluence some of India’s biggest problems: lack of toilets, lack of security for women, rampant caste discrimination within the justice system, ineffective police procedures and a complete lack of governmental will to fix the system.

In today’s post, I look at the country’s justice system and it’s ability to deliver. I look at statistics on gender violence, conviction rates, caste segregated statistics. The results are horrifying. There is a definite upward trend in violence against women over the past decade. Nearly 50% of all rape victims are under the age of 18 and a majority are raped by someone they know. Conviction rates are abysmal with only 2% of all rape cases seeing a conviction. If the victim belongs to the scheduled castes/tribes then chances of conviction in any crime go down dramatically.

It is clear that India’s courts and police regularly fail its most vulnerable citizens. State sanctioned power only seems to perpetuate the traditional order which privileges men from upper castes. Governments, which largely contain those at the top of this order, seem reluctant to take any real action against these crimes. If India is serious about delivering on its promise of freedom and opportunity, then it needs to revamp its criminal justice system. A sensitized, motivated investigative system is needed. Unfortunately for Indian citizens, there seems little political will to change this system.

Graph 1 looks at violence against women as a % of total crimes in the country since 2008. Graph 2 looks at the age of rape victims(2012), Graph 3 looks at conviction rates in registered rape cases (2012). Finally, Graph 4 compares conviction rates in crimes against schedules castes/tribes vis-a-vis other crimes (2012). All credit for the data goes to the National Crime Records Bureau and the Oxfam Policy Blog.


law and disorder


5 thoughts on “Law and Disorder

    V. Ramaswami said:
    June 5, 2014 at 11:26 am

    These statistics are incomplete. Yes, law enforcement at all levels is dismal in India. But, are the numbers going up due to more reporting or more occurrences ? As an incidence rate per 10000 women say, how does India compare with other countries ? And, finally, it is easy to sit on a high horse and point to defects but do you have some solutions to propose that are feasible within the constraints of the society and available resources?

      shrutiviswanathan responded:
      June 5, 2014 at 11:38 am

      You are right, part of the story could be greater reporting. I did include this in a footnote but wordpress ate that up. However, there is no way to know for sure since we can’t get numbers for unreported cases. I can only comment on the reported cases.

      I also agree with you that there isn’t an easy/perfect solution but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Sensitization training for police officers and fast disposal of rape cases can be start. Strong political leaders who take a public stance against such incidents are crucial. Instead we have politicians who say things like ‘Boys will be Boys’ or that ‘Rape is sometimes right’. Such leaders should be shamed and thrown out of office. The fact that the ‘tweet-a-minute’ PMO is silent on the issues is an indication of the lack of political will to change things. Only by calling out our leaders and drawing attention this issue can we hope to change the system.

      I am not sitting on a high horse, I am sitting on the lowest horse. As an Indian woman who constantly faces sexual harassment I am doing what I can in the hope that people with real power can change things. For most Indian women this isn’t about a high horse or pointing fingers, it is about trying to change the reality of everyday life.

        V. Ramaswami said:
        June 5, 2014 at 11:47 am

        Shruti: Please don’t think I am insensitive to the issue. Even one instance is bad, period. Politicians are idiots and if I spend time quoting examples of stupid comments even from the US law makers on the harassment and rape issues, pages won’t be enough. Hope you saw my question, “Where were they (Obama and Ban-Ki-Moon) when so many revelations of child molestations by Catholic priests came out in the USA? This is a national issue and a national shame and should be solved by and within the nation.

    shrutiviswanathan responded:
    June 5, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    I am afraid I have to disagree with you. I am not suggesting that Obama or Ban-Ki-Moon have an exemplary record when it comes to gender violence. However, that doesn’t take away from their, or anyone else’s, right to call out India on its gender violence record. Pointing to their failings isn’t a constructive way to deal with what happened in Badaun.

    The international community is a powerful thing and we live in a world with greater access to happenings around the world. I am not suggesting that Obama decide policy in India but India’s dirty laundry is out for the world to see. If international condemnation can help someone/shame the government to do something then so be it.

    This whole attitude of ‘hide the shame within the country’ is not something I agree with. Sexual violence is a reality in India and if India doesn’t the world to talk about it then it should change the reality.

    V. Ramaswami said:
    June 5, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    For a country like India with its constraints, the only solution to crime and corruption is to have people courts and enforce punishment in the form of whip lashes in number and severity proportional to the crime. [Yes, the liberals of the West will squirm and scream. But that is okay.] What else do you do when cops, politicians, prosecutors, judges and anybody can be bought ? This is a serious solution I propose. It works in Singapore and why not ?

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