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Hate Crime

  • 21 Apr 2022
  • 10 min read

What is Hate Crime?

  • About:
    • Hate crime refers to criminal acts which are motivated by bias against an individual or social group because of certain differences, majorly in their religious practices and customs.
    • In contemporary times its meaning has proliferated beyond lynching, discrimination and offensive speeches and now encompasses speech that is insulting, derogatory or incites and violence.
    • In totality, Hate Crimes could be defined as an attack on a person’s rights entrusted to him thereby affecting not only him but the social structure as a whole which in many ways makes it more heinous than many other Criminal Offences.
    • Most common grounds of hate speech are race, ethnicity, religion or class.
  • Hate Crime in India:
    • Hate Crime in India is defined in terms of the harm done to a community at large rather than an individual’s right to freedom of speech and expression and the harm done as a result of hate speech.
      • In India, hate speech is prohibited which is based upon religion, ethnicity, culture or race.
      • Hate speech is neither defined in the Indian legal framework nor can it be easily reduced to a standard definition due to the myriad forms it can take.
  • Statistics related to Hate Crime in India:
    • Most hate crimes reported in India were targeted towards Dalits between September 2015 and December 2019 followed by Muslims.
    • A total of 902 crimes were reported to because of alleged hate - varying from caste, religion to honor killing and love jihad.

What are the Causes for the Prevalence of Hate Crime?

  • Expression of Prejudice or Bias:
    • A person who commits a ‘hate crime’ need not actually be motivated by hatred for his or her victim, but rather it is his or her expression of prejudice or bias against the victim’s (presumed) group membership that more properly characterises such crimes.
    • Perpetrators of hate crimes are not always motivated by a single type of prejudice or hatred but can be influenced by a combination of different prejudices.
  • Impact of Social Environments:
    • Hate crimes may also be the product of our social environments.
    • Hate crimes are more likely to occur where society is structured in such a way as to advantage certain identity characteristics over others (for example, white, male, heterosexual).
    • Systemic discrimination, typically codified into operating procedures, policies or laws, may give rise to an environment where perpetrators feel a sense of impunity when victimising certain minority group members.
  • Influence of Perception:
    • Some evidence within social psychology suggests that perpetrators may be influenced by their perception that certain groups pose a threat to them.
    • These threats can be divided into:
      • ‘Realistic threats’ – such as perceived competition over jobs, housing and other resources, and physical harm to themselves or others and
      • ‘Symbolic threats’ which are concerned with the threat posed to people’s values and social norms.
  • Other Factors:
    • Perpetrators of hate crime can be motivated by a variety of different factors.
    • Some research suggests that there are four ‘types’ of perpetrators, including:
      • Thrill seekers: Those motivated by a thrill and excitement)
      • Defensive: Those motivated by a desire to protect their territory)
      • Retaliators: Those who act in retaliation for a perceived attack against their own group); and
      • Mission: Perpetrators who make it their mission in life to eradicate ‘difference’.

What can be the Implications of Hate Crime?

  • Psychological Distress:
    • People victimized by violent hate crimes are more likely to experience more psychological distress than victims of other violent crimes.
    • Specifically, victims of crimes that are bias-motivated are more likely to experience post-traumatic stress, safety concerns, depression, anxiety and anger than victims of crimes that are not motivated by bias.
  • Sends Wrong Signal to the Society:
    • Hate crimes send messages to members of the victim’s group that they are unwelcome and unsafe in the community, victimizing the entire group and decreasing feelings of safety and security.
    • Furthermore, witnessing discrimination against one’s own group can lead to psychological distress and lower self-esteem.

What are the Indian Laws Against Hate Crimes?

  • Though the term is nowhere mentioned in any statute, its different forms are identified across the laws.
  • The IPC under Sections 153A, 153B, 295A, 298, 505(1) and 505(2) declares that word, spoken or written, that promotes disharmony, hatred, or insults on basis of religion, ethnicity, culture, language, region, caste, community, race etc., is punishable under law.
    • 53A: It penalizes promotion of enmity between different groups.
    • 153B: It punishes imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration.
    • 505: It punishes rumours and news intended to promote communal enmity.
    • 295A: It criminalises insults to the religious beliefs of a class by words with deliberate or malicious intention, contributing to combating hate speeches.
  • Some other laws which contain provisions concerning hate speech and its prevention are:
    • Representation of People Act, 1951: It classifies hate speech as an offence committed during elections into two categories: corrupt practices and electoral offences. The relevant provisions regarding hate speech in the RPA are Sections 8, 8A, 123(3), 123(3A) and 125.

What are the ways to Stop Hate Crime in Society?

  • Needs a Specialised Legislation:
    • The need of the hour is specialised legislation that will govern hate speech propagated via the Internet and, especially, social media.
    • It is important that specific and durable legislative provisions that combat hate speech, especially that which is propagated online and through social media, is enacted by amending the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Information Technology Act.
      • Ultimately, this would be possible only when hate speech is recognised as a reasonable restriction to free speech.
  • Sensitisation:
    • Indian community should be sensitised towards the rights of other citizens and danger of hate crimes for social cohesion.
  • Community Policing:
    • By fostering partnerships with the community a society enables communities and law enforcement to work together to prevent and respond to hate crimes.
    • Community involvement can prevent turning a hate-related problem into a serious crime. Everyone in the community needs to be involved in the solution. Including diverse groups whose communities may be targets of hate is important.
  • Community Need to be Aware:
    • To address the problem of hate motivated crimes, awareness about the consequences of the crime is important. By understanding the problem, the community becomes aware of the significance and need of addressing the issues facing the community. A public awareness campaign in the community that provides information, awareness, and resources for community members and victims of hate crimes is important.
  • Youth Involvement and Counselling:
    • Youth are often more vulnerable to violent attacks, bullying, and other forms of harassment.
    • To combat this, teachers and school administrators should educate their students and staffs on the nature of hate incidents and crimes and how to prevent them.
  • Training for Officers and Deputies:
    • Police should train new recruits and existing officers and deputies on hate crimes and other related issues to ensure responding officers and deputies are trained to investigate and report the hate crimes or incidents.
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