Adopted at the 20th Congress of the CPI(M), Kozhikode, April 4-9, 2012
On Violence against Women
This 20th Congress of the CPI(M) expresses deep concern over the steep escalation in crimes against women, and is alarmed by the barbarity and savagery of the atrocities being committed at a time when women are entering public life, institutions of learning, and diverse work spheres in increasing numbers. The crude commodification of women and the portrayal of women as sex objects in the mass media is highly objectionable and is not only demeaning to women but creates an environment which trivialises the crime of sexual harassment and violence against women.
In the period between 2006 and 2010, crimes against women have registered an increase of as much as 29.3%. While registered cases of domestic violence against women have increased by 5 per cent over the previous year to 94, 041 cases the number of dowry deaths is as high as 8391 in 2010. Yet there is a retrograde campaign to dilute even the inadequate clause 498 A which deals with this issue, which must be resisted. The increase in the number of cases of sexual assault and rape show that the safety and security of women is deeply compromised. There were over 94,000 rape cases registered in 2010, in other words in every hour seven women/children became victims of rape. Many cases go unreported because the victims belong to the poorer socially oppressed sections who have little access to justice. In particular sexual assaults on tribal and dalit women are greatly underreported. Shockingly, the conviction rates in crimes against women is just 26 per cent which means that three fourths of the criminals get away scot-free. The failure to punish the criminals and the long delay in the judicial process is undoubtedly one of the reasons for the increase in rapes and gangrapes being witnessed in several parts of the country.
This Party congress condemns the failure of the Central Government to make the essential changes in the legal framework even though Bills are pending for several years. India is one of the few countries which does not have a special law against child sexual abuse even though such crimes are increasing. Working women face increased cases of sexual harassment at the workplace, including horrific cases against young women in the IT sector, yet twelve years after the Supreme Court guidelines in the Vishakha case, the Government has still not enacted the required law. Even though crimes in the name of honour have increased the Government has refused to enact a comprehensive legislation because of powerful casteist lobbies.
This Party Congress protests against the anti- women and utterly insensitive statements made by some political leaders who blame the victim or who call into question the veracity of her complaint. Recent outrageous statements by the West Bengal Chief Minister calling complaints of rape a political conspiracy against her Government, even while the investigation confirmed the truth of the victims’ complaints are an assault on the rights of victims for justice. In Karnataka the ruling party, the BJP has refused to take criminal action against Ministers watching pornographic films during the Assembly session. In Rajasthan, the Congress Government initially did its best to shield a senior Minister and MLAs from charges of sexual exploitation and subsequent murder of a dalit health worker who threatened to expose their misdemeanors. The law gets compromised and victim becomes doubly victimized by such insensitivity and blatant bias by some political leaders and officials.
This Congress demands sound, effective legal intervention to enforce timebound punishment of the guilty. The social, political, and economic factors leading to escalating violence against women must also be addressed in a comprehensive and gender sensitive manner.
The 20th Party Congress of the CPI(M) reiterates its commitment to fight against the increasing violence against women and for stringent punishment to the criminals in all such cases.