Hindutva and Violence Against Women



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In this monograph, one of India’s leading, most committed political and human rights activists examines how women’s safety, dignity and security have been undermined in the decade since the Hindu right rose to near-absolute power. Hindutva—the guiding philosophy of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the rest of the Sangh Parivar—is at its core a majoritarian, militant and regressive thought system that draws inspiration from casteist, communal and misogynistic texts and ideologues. While injustice in cases of violence against women is not new in India, writes Brinda Karat, the political supremacy of Hindutva since 2014 has changed the nature and extent of this injustice. The religious identities of the victims and the perpetrators determine the approach of powerful leaders and their governments, the police, and, increasingly, the courts. This creates new rape cultures that ultimately affect the processes of justice for all women.

Examining some of the most horrific instances of majoritarian violence against women and the official response (or lack of it) to them—the release of Bilkis Bano’s rapists; campaigns in favour of the men who brutalized little Asifa Bano; the covert cremation of the body of the Hathras victim; the rape and murder of Kuki women in Manipur—Karat shows how, when sexual crimes are communalized, women of oppressed castes are denied justice just as women of religious and ethnic minorities are.

Impassioned, rigorous and forthright, this is a necessary book for our times.

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