by Vinta Nanda March 8 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 0 secs

On the occasion of International Women's Day, as the world celebrates the achievements of women, it's imperative to reflect on the role of accountability in democratic governance, particularly concerning the protection of women, writes Vinta Nanda.

Let’s talk about what happens when those in power, entrusted with upholding accountability remain silent in the face of grave injustice.

The recent turmoil in Sandeshkhali, a small Indian island near the Bangladesh border, has brought to light a chilling narrative of corruption and sexual assault allegedly perpetrated by local political figures. The arrest of Shahjahan Sheikh, a member of the Trinamool Congress party (TMC), after being on the run for almost two months, has sparked nationwide debates and protests, shedding light on the plight of women in marginalized communities.

Sandeshkhali, once obscure to millions of Indians, is now thrust into the national spotlight as political heavyweights manoeuvre for control amidst allegations of land seizures and sexual violence against women. The protests, ongoing for over 50 days, underscore the gravity of the situation, with multiple women coming forward with harrowing accounts of rape and assault.

In the face of such egregious allegations in the past, from Hathras, Unnao, Kathua earlier, and Haryana and Manipur more recently, the response from the ruling government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been deafening silence. While political parties engage in a blame game, vying for electoral leverage, the voices of the victims remain marginalized, their cries for justice drowned amidst political rhetoric.

This phenomenon is not isolated to Sandeshkhali; it reverberates across the nation, echoing the selective outrage and indifference of those in power towards issues of women's safety and dignity. The National Crime Records Bureau's report paints a grim picture of escalating crimes against women in India, with staggering numbers that demand urgent attention and action.


Instances like the Kathua incident expose the paradox of political silence, where leaders who claim to champion women's rights fail to condemn atrocities committed by their own supporters. The Prime Minister’s reticence in addressing heinous crimes like this one and others like the rape and stripping of a young girl in Manipur, send a chilling message, perpetuating a culture of impunity and emboldening perpetrators.

The haunting bullet of accountability ricochets back to its origin, especially when women from the BJP, like the Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani’s outrage over Sandeshkhali when on several instances before (e.g. when the protesting world champions, the wrestlers, were ruthlessly dragged outside the new parliament building by the police while their perpetrator was in attendance at the celebrations taking place inside) they actually maintained a stoic silence, forcing those in power to confront their own complicity in perpetuating systemic injustices.

The silence of governments in the face of rampant abuse and misogyny not only erodes public trust but also perpetuates harm, leaving women vulnerable to exploitation and violence.
In navigating the labyrinth of governance, as women, we must challenge the status quo and demand transparency, integrity, and justice. Women's voices must be amplified, and their experiences cantered in policymaking and decision-making processes. It is our collective responsibility to break the silence, hold leaders accountable, and strive for a more compassionate and equitable society.

As we commemorate International Women's Day this year, let us reaffirm our commitment to dismantling systems of oppression, and paving the way for a future where every woman can live free from fear and discrimination.

The silence of governments may be deafening, but our collective roar for justice and equality will resonate far and wide, echoing the spirit of empowerment that defines this day.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.