India isn't exactly known for gender equality.
Calling for attention to cases of sexual violence against women and girls in India, the UN Mission in India said on Monday that the alleged rape and murder in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras and Balrampur are a reminder that those from disadvantaged social groups are at greater risk of gender-based violence.
In a statement, the UN said it is essential that authorities ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice speedily and families are empowered to seek timely justice, social support, counselling, healthcare and rehabilitation.
"The recent cases of alleged rape and murder in Hathras and Balarampur are another reminder that despite the impressive progress made on a number of social indicators, women and girls from disadvantaged social groups face additional vulnerabilities and are at greater risk of gender-based violence," the statement said.
But the Ministry of External Affairs rejected the United Nations’ criticism of the alleged rape and murder in Hathras and Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh, saying the UN should refrain from making "unwarranted" statements while the investigation is underway.
"Some unwarranted comments have been made by the UN Resident Coordinator regarding some recent cases of violence against women. UN Resident Coordinator in India should be aware that these cases have been taken extremely seriously by the government," said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava.
"Since the investigation process is still underway, any unnecessary comments by an external agency are best avoided. The Constitution guarantees equality to all citizens of India. As a democracy, we have a time-tested record of providing justice to all sections of our society," he said.
Our response to the UN Resident Coordinator’s statement (of 4 October 2020): pic.twitter.com/S7zboX3Esm
— Anurag Srivastava (@MEAIndia) October 5, 2020
Srivastava's remark, however, about the "time-tested record of providing justice to all sections of our society" doesn't quite match with the NCRB data on crimes against women.
Recently released National Crime Record Bureau’s (NCRB) from just 2019, shows that out of 4,566 rape cases which went up for investigation, only 279 resulted in convictions. The conviction rate for rape in 2019, was just a mere 22.4% even in major metropolitan cities.
For states, the numbers were also dismally low. Out of 45,536 rape cases up for investigation in 2019, there was conviction only in 4,640 of them. The conviction rate is just 27.8%
It wasn't just rape cases that had a low conviction rate.
The Hathras case revealed an already known existing reality of caste-violence in the country - the victim was Dalit, the perpetrators were upper-caste Hindus.
In 2019, a total of 256 cases were registered under crime against Scheduled Tribes (STs), showing an increase in registration by 70.7% over 2018 (150 cases). Crime head-wise cases revealed that rape (36 cases) formed the highest number of cases registered under crimes/atrocities against Scheduled Tribes accounting for 14.1% during 2019.
The data also shows that crime and legal outcome of such cases, in the last one decade crimes against Dalits have risen by 37% while the conviction rate in such crimes increased by merely 2.5%.
In fact, Uttar Pradesh, where Hathras is located and has become the subject of scrutiny for politicians after the state government's alleged inaction on the murder has a bad track record for crimes against Dalits.
In 2019, with 11,829 cases, Uttar Pradesh saw the highest number of cases of crime against Dalits.
But 2019 isn't the exception to the rule. NCRB data through the years proves time and time again that conviction rate for Crimes Against Women and Crimes Against Scheduled Tribes/Castes has always been very low, with a minuscule percentage of it even making it past the trial.