(Adopted by the 23rd Congress on April 9, 2022)

The 23rd Congress of the CPI(M) expresses great anguish at the growing attacks on women in our country. The frightening regularity with which women and young girls are subjected to violence and abuse is alarming. Gang-rape, abduction, physical and mental abuse, torture of various kinds, threats of killing and rape are not isolated incidents. Instead they are a part of the larger systemic problem.

Such incidents must be viewed in the context where extra-constitutional and self-appointed vigilante groups are having a free rein and are roaming scot-free after killing, lynching, murdering and looting people with impunity. They have taken the law into their hands and have derived tacit support and acquiescence from their RSS-BJP political masters. Concerted efforts have been made in the recent past by these political groups to show women their ‘true place’.

More than one third of the cases of rape were against girl children, which led to an eruption of rage, disgust and anguish all over the country. Even 8 month old girl children have become targets of these insane brutalities. Seven POCSO cases are registered every month in Delhi, according to police records.

The Thompson Reuters Foundation Report had ranked India as the most dangerous country for women in terms of human trafficking, including sex slavery and domestic servitude, and for customary practices such as forced marriage, stoning and female infanticide.The data recently released by the National Commission of Women (NCW), shows that violence in the first eight months of 2021 against women had increased by 46 per cent over 2020. About 35 per cent of the cases were related to either domestic violence, or of cruelty by husbands and relatives.

The National Crime Records Bureau (2019) reported that 10 Dalit women are raped every day in our country. The real figures are much more than this. India recorded an average of 87 rape cases daily in 2019 and overall 4,05,861 cases of crimes against women during the year, a rise of over 7 per cent from 2018, as per government data released on September 29, 2020. The NCRB data shows that one woman is raped every 16 minutes in India.

The Unnao rape of a 17 year-old Dalit girl by a BJP MLA, the killing of her father for which the UP police and the MLA’s brother have been held guilty and sent to jail, stirred the conscience of millions. It is only after the Allahabad High Court made scathing comments on the administration and ordered the arrest of the MLA, that he was taken into custody. Similarly, the brutal gang rape and murder of a 19 year-old Dalit woman in Hathras in Uttar Pradesh was shocking.

Denying women their right to self-choice, increasing caste arrogance and politics of hatred towards minorities has led to increase in killings in the name of ‘honour’. Brutal murders by the upper castes, encouraged by the Caste Panchayats, have taken place in various states.

Dowry related harassment and deaths have always been the bane of our society. After big struggles by women, Section 498A was introduced. The BJP never accepted this law, claiming that the family is sacrosanct and is trying to dilute it.
The Verma Commission recommendations have not been implemented properly to ensure conviction of the accused in crimes against women, which is only around 25 per cent. The conviction rate for crimes against Dalit and Adivasi women is even lower.
Women’s groups have been asking for marital rape to be recognised as an offence under 376 IPC and for the exception of marital rape to be removed from the IPC. Conservative and patriarchal notions that exist in sections of the Indian criminal justice system ought to be weeded.

The ‘Me Too’ campaign exposed the sexual abuse and trauma that a number of women in the field of media have suffered.

The CPI(M) commends the brave women who came forth to challenge the prevailing patriarchal norms which indict the victim rather than the perpetrator. Character assassination and abusive trolling on the social media to discredit the complainants, and browbeat them into silence is abhorrent. It is the duty of the government to provide protection and legal aid to the women.

The BJP government’s promise of setting up rape crisis centres and utilisation of Nirbhaya funds have remained pipe dreams. According to a reply to an RTI enquiry in 2018, only 30 per cent of the total fund had been utilised. The lack of improvement in child sex ratios exposes the false propaganda of the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao slogan of the Modi government. Many reports point to an increase in human trafficking especially of girl children since the pandemic.

Regressive ideologies seek to justify, make acceptable, strengthen and perpetuate an exploitative system. They endorse patriarchy, hierarchy and private property. The Manusmriti contributed to Brahminism gaining supremacy and to the imposition of the social structure of varnashram dharma (the caste system) over vast parts of the country. No other known religio-social system promotes inequality, patriarchy and exploitation more than the Manusmruti.

The relentless implementation of its Manuvadi agenda by the RSS-BJP governments is threatening to deprive women of all their hard-won rights, their right to equality and their right to livelihood. Already, fewer women than ever before are able to enter the labour market.

Women are the worst sufferers of the super-exploitation that neo-liberal policies promote. Their cheap labour is becoming more and more essential to maintain the entire structure of super-profits and super-exploitation.The protection given to Sangh Parivar outfits for doing moral policing, accusations of love jihad, harassment of families using anti-conversion laws, enforcing dress codes etc., have become the norm in BJP-ruled states.

In view of the enormity of the violence against women and girls across the country, the 23rd Congress of the CPI(M) resolves to make an even more prompt, determined and effective intervention in each state by mobilizing much larger number of men and women against injustice and violence and for women’s equality.