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Confronting the Surge in Moral Policing: Upholding Individual Freedom

  • Category
    Society
  • Published
    20th Jan, 2024

Context

The recent spate of attacks in Karnataka on individuals engaged in inter-faith relationships underscores the alarming prevalence of moral policing, echoing the contentious discourse surrounding 'love jihad'.

Moral Policing

  • Moral Policing/Vigilantism is a term used to describe vigilante groups that act to enforce a code of morality in India without legal authority. It is the ugly truth of modern India. 
  • The target of moral policing is any activity that is deemed to be immoral or against Indian culture.
  • The term morality in this time and age has different meanings for different persons and therefore moral policing has different consequences for different persons.
  • Moral Policing in its broadest sense could mean a system where a strict vigil and restriction is imposed on those who violate the basic standards of our society.
  • The basic standard of our society could be found in its cultures, age-old customs which are derived from the scriptures and ancient texts in this situation the moral character of an individual is questioned by those who advocate this phenomenon.
  • This disturbing trend poses a direct challenge to fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution and warrants a comprehensive response from the criminal justice system.

Violation of Fundamental Rights:

The attacks on inter-faith couples represent a blatant infringement of individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The right to choose one's life partner is a fundamental aspect of personal liberty, and any encroachment upon this right contradicts the very ethos of a democratic society.

Human Rights Perspective:

  • Beyond constitutional rights, these incidents also violate fundamental human rights.
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasizes the right to privacy, protection against arbitrary interference, and freedom from discrimination.
  • Moral policing, in its various forms, runs afoul of these international human rights principles.

Alarming Rise in Moral Policing:

  • The surge in incidents, often recorded and circulated online, highlights the escalating intolerance towards inter-faith relationships.
  • The "love jihad" narrative, prevalent not only in Karnataka but also in states like UP, Haryana, and Rajasthan, reflects a disturbing pattern that demands a robust response from law enforcement.
  • The rise is also due to the perceived false notion of new generation destroying cultures of India by engaging themselves in love affairs. The problem took ugly turn when it transcends the caste barriers or inter faith.
  • The attack is also an outcome of patriarch nature of Indian Society, which is based on notions of male dominated society and guardianship.

Role of Criminal Justice System:
The criminal justice system must unequivocally address such crimes, ensuring a swift and impartial investigation.

  • The response should transcend regional boundaries, adopting a unified approach to counter the menace of moral policing and protect individual freedoms.

    Technology and Cybercrime Challenges:

    The misuse of technology, as witnessed in the recording and dissemination of violent acts, calls for an enhanced focus on combating cybercrime. Law enforcement agencies need to bolster their capabilities to address the evolving challenges posed by the digital realm.

    Addressing Stigma and Enhancing Conviction Rates:
    Campaigns aimed at destigmatizing victims of sexual violence should be prioritized. Additionally, the abysmally low conviction rate for crimes against women in India, standing at 26% as of 2021, necessitates urgent improvements in the efficiency of investigative and prosecutorial agencies.

Political Leadership and Civil Society Role:

  • Political leaders, irrespective of party affiliations, must unequivocally denounce moral policing. Any hint of tacit support for such acts undermines the principles of justice and individual freedom.
  • There needs to be more awareness with regard to threats which moral policing poses in nation in general and society in particular. Political parties who are at forefront and represent the voices of all, shall take unwavering position on such incidents of moral policing and criticise it publicly to send larger message.
  • Civil society plays a pivotal role in advocating for a culture that respects diverse choices and relationships.
    They must act as bridge to inculcate social behaviour according to the constitutional values.
    The rise in moral policing poses a direct threat to the foundational principles of democracy and human rights.
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