AAP Report on crimes against women in UP
A status report on crimes against women in Uttar Pradesh prepared by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders, Shefali Misra and Hema Badhwar Mehra (party’s Lok Sabha candidates from Sitapur and Badaun constituencies in UP, respectively), has been presented to the AAP national convenor, Arvind Kejriwal. Receiving the report, he condemned the increasing violence against women, calling the situation a “gross neglect of basic human rights.”
Kejriwal asked for a serious review of women’s situation in the country, expressing that, “The mandate to stop violence is a responsibility each one of us now needs to take.” He further added that, “the state has failed in its endeavour to protect women’s rights. It is time that each citizen expresses anguish and anger and lets the law makers and implementers know that violence must stop.”
Digging into the root causes of these problems, the report summarises a harrowing tale of unspeakable neglect of women’s rights, hatred, misogyny, and breakdown of governance, crisis and justice protocols.
The investigative report was undertaken by the two AAP leaders soon after the media reported the shocking alleged gang rape of two Dalit women in UP on May 26, 2014. The research was primarily undertaken at Badaun, Sitapur and Bareilly districts of UP, where there have been a spate of brutal incidents of rape, honour killing, sodomy, acid killing and molestation, widely reported in the media.
The main findings based on primary assessments and interviews with several stakeholders indicates that the apparent surge in violence against women and girls are not one-off incidents but are in fact indicative of a much deeper form of growing disempowerment of women, especially from marginalised communities in Uttar Pradesh.
The administrative lethargy, coupled with collusion between the police, politicians and local goons leads the way to lawlessness that creates the atmosphere of impunity for such crimes to take place. Most cases are not even registered and those that are, find the victims fighting against a tough system of justice andgunda raj.
The report also highlights the dismal situation of police infrastructure, sensitization and discipline, which raises serious questions about their readiness and ability to deliver protection to women. With a police to citizen ratio of 1:1000 and just 2 women constables per police station, each covering 60 off villages, crimes against women are hardly ever taken seriously, unless exposed under the media glare.
Further, the report reveals that the social fabric itself is hostile to women. In addition to traditional norms, which see girls getting married off at the tender age of 11, violence against women almost finds acceptance and social sanction. Victims and their families who have survived assaults are often silenced and withdraw cases for fear of retaliation and stigma. Most suffer severe psycho-social trauma. Surprisingly, no crisis protocols exist, such as shelters, rape counselling units, lawyers and counsellors who support families. The Legal Service Authority mandated to protect women’s rights under NALSA Act is defunct. Panchayati Raj institutions are hegemonic structures in themselves and highly neglectful of women’s rights.
In its recommendations, the report calls for an “immediate implementation” of the Justice JS Verma Committee report’s findings, the strong need for Standard Operating Procedures and response protocols to deal with crimes against women, strict disciplinary action on personnel for neglect and misconduct in handling of such cases, justice protocols and fast track courts, protection and support to victims and families in line with national and international statutes, third party surveillance and media monitoring.
“If this (crime against women) does not stop, AAP is planning a state-wide agitation and we will ensure that not one voice is left unheard,” said party’s UP incharge, Sanjay Singh.