QUESTION : How would you justify that dalit women in India face the double blow of caste based and gender based violence ?
RECOGNISING CASTE-BASED VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Caste-based Violence Against Women
WHY IN NEWS ?
The Supreme Court convicted the accused of rape under Section 376 of IPC (Indian Penal Code) in the recent Patan Jamal Vali v. State of Andhra Pradesh case. However, the conviction under the Prevention of Atrocities Act (PoA) was set aside. It shows insensitivity towards the recognition of caste-based violence against women in India.
• In Patan Jamal Vali v. State of Andhra Pradesh case, the trial court and the High Court had sentenced the accused to life imprisonment. He was found guilty of rape under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under Section 3(2)(v) of the PoA Act.
o Both of them viewed a connection between the caste, gender, and disability of the woman as she was a 22-year-old blind Dalit woman.
• However, the Supreme Court diverted from this view. It found the accused guilty of rape under section 376 but not under Section 3(2)(v) of the PoA Act.
ABOUT SC/ST PREVENTION OF ATROCITIES) ACT 1989 :
• It was enacted to protect the marginalized communities against discrimination and atrocities.
• It was amended in 2015 to specifically recognise more atrocities against Dalit and Adivasi women including sexual assault, Devadasi dedication, etc.
• Section 3(2)(v) imposes a punishment of life imprisonment on a non-SC/ST person who has committed an offense under IPC on SC/ST person. However, the offense should have a minimum punishment of 10 years and It should be committed against the victim on the ground that such a person is from an SC/ST community.
• The section was amended in 2015, to change the phrase “on the ground that such a person is a member of SC/ST” to “knowing that such person is a member of SC/ST”.
POSITIVE ASPECTS OF JUDGEMENT :
• It recognised the intersectional discrimination faced by women on the grounds of sex, caste, and disability. This recognition would help the judges to take into account the multiple marginalities that the victim faced.
o Intersectional discrimination arises when the identity of a woman intersects with her caste, religion, disability, and sexual orientation. Due to this, she may face violence and discrimination on two or more grounds.
• The court also laid down directions to train judges, the police, and prosecutors to be sensitized in such cases.
NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF JUDGEMENT :
• It set aside the conviction under the PoA Act like many other previous judgments of the Supreme Court.
o In Asharfi v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2017), the court held that the evidence and materials on record did not show that the appellant had committed rape on the ground that the victim was a member of an SC community.
o In Khuman Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2019), the court affirmed the fact that the victim was a member of an SC community. However, there was no evidence to show that the offense was committed only on that ground and hence the conviction was set aside.
• The court in the current case stated that there was no evidence to establish whether it was caste, gender, or disability that led to the commission of the offence. Hence, it acquitted the accused under the PoA Act.
CONVICTION UNDER POA ACT WAS DESIRED – WHY ?
• The repeated setting aside of convictions under the PoA Act strengthens the allegations that the law is misused by marginalised sections.
• The high acquittal rate motivates the dominant communities for continuing atrocities on the SC/ST community. As seen in the recent Hathras rape case, 2020.
WAY FORWARD :
Prevention instead of punishment: More focus should be stressed upon how to prevent these heinous crimes.
Conversations on this issue need to happen not just after commission of such heinous crimes but even without them, so that these very crimes can be prevented.
Women in need of women: Need for shifting the blame away from the victim & standing by her. At least mothers & other women need to stand by the victim rather than blaming them. The victim should be given the benefit of doubt.
Encouraging the police: Incentivising and rewarding the good cops for performing their duties responsibly, ensuring justice to the victims & the ones that do not do their duty should be shamed & punished under IPC section 166a.
Lesser but fairly implemented Laws: It is better to have fewer laws that are implemented faithfully, than to have more laws implemented very loosely.
Empowering the victim: Victim or likely victim needs to be empowered, rape in most cases is a display of power and less about sex/caste/religion.
Improving the investigative infrastructure: Strengthening the police system & it’s forensic apparatus. Every district needs to have an easily accessible & competent forensic lab.
Educating children: Teaching children about gender equality and making sure they know that women are equal to men & deserve equal respect.
Role of parents: Parents need to take the responsibility of their children and should learn and teach their children that these crimes don’t have apologies.
At practical level: We should focus on steps at practical level to ensure that fewer crimes are committed, For eg:
o More patrolling
o More street lights
o Creating safer street culture by ensuring lesser streets are deserted
We can say that the judgment was a missed opportunity for the court to use intersectionality to uphold the conviction under the PoA Act. Further, it should have at least referred the matter to a larger bench in order to attain clarity over the critical elements that determine conviction under PoA Act.
QUESTION : Give a brief note about two state solution to end the long standing Israel- Palestine conflict.
THE INDIAN MODEL OF CO-EXISTENCE
WHY IN NEWS ?
The Palestinians have been losing not only their lives and livelihood but also the very land for which this violence has been raging for over a century now.
THE TERRITORY IN DISPUTE :
• The territory in question is The Holy Land to the three religions of Abrahamic monotheism, viz., Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
• All three religions Jews, Christians and Muslims have accepted that it is the Promised Land of the Beni Israel branch of the descendants of Abraham.
• The Al-Aqsa mosque in Quran is Solomon’s Temple which was the first Qibla (direction of prayer) of the Muslims.
A HISTORICAL BACKGROUND :
• Britain renounced its Mandate over Palestine in 1948, paving the way for the United Nations to divide Palestine between the Jews and Arabs, giving them about 55% and 45% of the land, respectively.
• The Jews, meanwhile, had declared the establishment of the state of Israel for which they had been working for long.
• The Palestinians, who lacked the resources to conceive of a state, failed to form a state of their own in the land allotted to them.
• Instead, a coalition of Arab countries invaded the nascent state of Israel to nip it in the bud.
• Israel not only defeated the Arab armies, but also unleashed what the Palestinians call Nakba, an Arabic word which means holocaust.
• Israel destroyed about 600 Palestinian villages and expelled about 80% of Arabs from its territory.
THE SIX DAY WAR AND AFTERMATH :
• In 1967, in the Six-Day War, Israel captured not just more Palestinian land but also Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Syria’s Golan Heights.
• During the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the Arabs came to realise that Israel is here to stay.
• But the Arab states, while washing their hands off Palestine, failed to impress the same realisation upon their Palestinian brethren, a sizeable number of whom remain committed to seeking a solution through counter-violence.
VICIOUS CYCLE OF VIOLENCE NEEDS TO END :
• This vicious cycle of violence is not going to end unless there is realism on both sides.
• Hamas should know that Israel will not give up on holding on to land it has held for years, and Israel should understand that total subjugation, expulsion or even decimation of Palestinians will not make it any safer.
• Both sides will have to seek a solution through non-violence.
• A solution based on the common humanity of all stakeholders, one that is not riven by racial and religious schisms, needs to be explored.
• Secularisation of the discourse is an inescapable prerequisite for any workable solution and this is especially more applicable for the weaker side.
ACCOMMODATION OF ALL :
• The Indian model of democracy and secularism, which accommodates religious, ethnic, linguistic and other diversities, could be a viable model for the peaceful coexistence of formerly antagonistic groups.
• The European model of the annihilation of natives in the Americas and Australia, last tried on the Jews in Nazi Germany, is not a solution which we can morally countenance and practically resort to.
• India, on the other hand, evolved a unique model of accommodating the victors and the vanquished, without ever resorting to the latter’s decimation.
A MODUS VIVENDI HAS TO EVOLVE :
• A modus vivendi has to evolve on the basis of hard realities, the first of which is that neither the Jews nor the Palestinians are going to vanish into thin air.
• The Palestinians now are sparsely spread over the land in scores of non-contiguous pockets, making a cohesive state unviable.
• The two-state solution can be possible only if Israel frees the occupied territories and removes the Jewish settlements from there, an unlikely scenario in the foreseeable future.
INDIAN MODEL AS AN OPTION :
• If the two-state solution is nowhere in the offing, a single state after the Indian model, i.e., a secular, democratic and pluralistic state, may be the only feasible option.
• A nation state only for the Jews would be a relapse into the ghetto mode, with all its concomitant implications.
• The Palestinian refugees have a right to return.
• That the altered demographics would impinge on the religio-racial character of Israel is not an argument which behoves a modern democratic state founded on common humanity with equal rights and opportunities for everyone.
• It is true that a nation state belongs to the group which constituted itself into a nation and the group’s ethos would reflect in national life without it rubbing it in.
• A nation is an imagined community and as imagination expands, the foundations of the nation become deeper.
• Thus for resolving this violent conflict between Israel and Palestine, there could be no better model than India where a peaceful coexistence has been practiced for centuries.