Sabrang India

The BJP’s track record on women issues has not been great in the past, especially on cases of violence against women. As Prajwal Revanna, MP from Karnataka in alliance with the BJP, seems to evade justice, Sabrang India takes a look at BJP’s past record with crimes against women.

A recent report by the Association for Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch revealed that 134 sitting MPs and MLAs in India face accusations in cases involving crimes against women. Among these, the BJP has the highest number of sitting MPs and MLAs with such cases at 44. 

How does this bode for the women of the country which have been under the rule of the BJP government for the past ten years? The BJP for one has not shied often from supporting men accused of rape and violence against women. 

While the BJP’s website repeatedly talks about Nari Shakti, and the need for removing discrimination and also to give the girl child ‘special emphasis’, BJP MPs and MLAs have often subjected their very own women colleagues to derogatory comments. 

BJP politicians have also not seemed to spare women in power that belong to the opposition. 

The PM Modi himself is not shy of having made comments many considered sexist. In 2018, he referred to Rajya Sabha MP Sonia Gandhi as ‘widow’ in a speech“Ye Congress ki kaun si vidhwa thi jiske khate mein paisa jaata tha?” PM Modi did not even spare the families of politicians. When he was the chief minister of Gujarat he was reported once calling Trivandrum MP from Congress, Shashi Tharoor’s wife, Sunanda Pushkar, ‘a 50 crore girlfriend.’ 

The Congress leader is repeatedly hit with such comments. In 2019 Giriraj Singh once made a highly derogatory comment on her when it was in the news that actor Sapna Choudhury would join the Congress, “Rahul’s mother was also in the same profession in Italy and his father made her his own. He (Rahul Gandhi) should also take the family tradition forward and make Sapna his own.”

Crimes against women have been consistently rising in the country. In 2021, out of six million registered crimes, 428,278 cases were categorised as crimes against women. This marked a 26.35% increase over a span of six years since 2016 when 338,954 such cases were recorded. Similarly, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), reported cases of rapes against Dalit women witnessed a troubling 45 percent increase from 2015 to 2020. The data tells us that on an average of 10 incidents of rape against Dalit women and girls are reported daily across India.

What contribution have BJP and their allies’ leaders made to these statistics? In the very recent case of sitting MP from the RD(S), which is part of the NDA alliance, from Karnataka, Prajwal Revanna, who has been noted to have made almost 3000 videos of women being sexually exploited or assaulted, is now reportedly absconding from the country. Sabrang India further noted how several leaders of the BJP have been accused of crimes against women, including MP Brijbushan Sharan Singh, now-convicted Kuldeep Singh Sengar and Ramdular Gond etc. 

Similarly, the BJP’s response to crimes against women has been harrowing. The Hathras rape and murder case of a Dalit woman in UP reveals the harrowing way in which the party has seemingly revealed its position on women’s issues. A young Dalit girl was brutally raped and subjected to brutal and fatal violence by four upper caste Thakur attackers in September 2020. The family of the victim were subjected to threats and fear and intimidation after the incident as it gained limelight. Her family was also denied the right to bury her, as her body was reportedly forcibly cremated by the UP police one night. Similarly, witnesses were also harassed and intimidated during the trial, which resulted in the conviction of only one Sandeep Sisodia, and acquittal of the three others. This took place despite the victim giving a testimony against the four in front of a magistrate before her death. Three Muslims, which included two journalists and a taxi driver, who were visiting Hathras to cover the incident were instead arrested and imprisoned for over three years. Furthermore, a report by The Wire claimed that the UP government, under BJP’s Yogi Adityanath, had tried to use PR firms to push the narrative in foreign media that the victim was not raped. 

Similarly, if we move east to Gujarat, the Bilkis Bano case was a harrowing case from the 2002 Gujarat massacre. Recently, in January 2024 the Supreme Court squashed Gujarat’s BJP-led government that granted remission to her rapists. Before the order was squashed, the rapists were released from jail to be received by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad with garlands and sweets. The rapists were also incidentally seen sharing the stage with BJP MLA and MP in Gujarat in 2023. 

Bilkis Bano had been gangraped in Gujarat while being pregnant. Seven of her family members, including her 3-year-old daughter, were murdered in the horrifying carnage. 

The track record of BJP, its ally parties and organisations, seems to paint a harrowing picture of the BJP’s stance on women’s issues.

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