Over the past three decades human rights movements in India have persistently interrogated systems of criminal justice in the country. The concerns have ranged from addressing the problem of arbitrary detention during the emergency to constructing entire communities as criminal thereby justifying forced dispossession and/or mass violence. While overt violence by state actors and their complicity in violence by dominant private actors has been a major concern, there has also been the problem of the abdication by the state with respect to provision of the means for bare life to a majority of the people, the denial of the right to bare life compounding their vulnerability to a repressive rule of law. There is a widespread acceptance of the fact that the law is unequal especially in terms of access to and delivery of justice, inequality of process negating the fundamental guarantee of equality.
This collection of essays re-examines the field of criminology through an interdisciplinary lens, challenging in the process unproblematic assumptions of the rule of law and opening out avenues for a renewed and radical restatement of the contexts of criminal law in India. This collection is a significant step towards mapping the ways in which interdisciplinary research and human rights activism might inform legal praxis more effectively and holistically. The contributors are a diverse group – widely respected activists, bureaucrats, scholars, and professionals – who share concerns on criminal justice systems and the need to entrench human rights in the Indian polity.
Chapter 6: Building a Subaltern Women's Perspective
Building a Subaltern Women's Perspective
In India, a country of pervasive inequalities and systemic discrimination based on gender, caste/ethnicity and class, crime control and criminal justice are heavily conditioned by social factors that shape the prevalence, nature, forms and causative factors of crime. Certain sections of society, the subalterns—Adivasis and Dalits, particularly women of these communities—are denied power, resources and agency, and are excluded from mainstream society, solely on the basis of their ascribed ‘low’ social status. In the same manner that social hierarchies of caste/ethnicity, class and gender distribute socio-economic and political power unequally, denying power and resources to those deemed to lie at the bottom of these hierarchies, so, too, does the perpetration of crime on ...