Almost exactly ten years ago, Goa became aware of a shocking crime committed on the beach at Anjuna. On February 18, 2008, the partially-clad corpse of British teenager Scarlett Keeling was discovered face-down in the shallow surf. The 15-year-old had been seen nearby late the previous night, and had allegedly been intoxicated. Very quickly, the Goa police labelled the incident an accidental drowning. It was only when the dead girl’s rather brave mother (accompanied by an insistent lawyer) forced a second autopsy that it became clear the young visitor had been raped, badly beaten (her body bore 52 wounds), and then murdered on the sands. In a depressing pattern that plays out in India with monotonous regularity, the horrific nature of the crimes against Scarlett Keeling were exponentially compounded by the disgraceful responses by both officialdom and civil society. Much innuendo was circulated about the victim, and her family. Not content with the proven dishonesty of its initial inquiries, the state police proceeded to shamefully botch every other aspect of the case as well. This week, the Bombay High Court heard final arguments on a CBI petition challenging the 2016 acquittal of two men who were accused of the crime. Whatever the outcome of that case, it’s amply clear that justice has definitely not been served. Violence against women is an historic global phenomenon, but making reprehensible excuses for it has become a contemporary Indian specialty that draws attention across the globe. At this very moment, there is huge international revulsion about what is happening in Kathua, in Jammu& Kashmir, where a gang of local men (including four police officers) kidnapped, drugged, battered, raped and brutally murdered an eight-year-old girl belonging to a family of nomads. According to the official chargesheet filed earlier this week, the abduction and sexual assault was calculated to “dislodge” the girl’s family (who are Muslim) from a predominantly Hindu village. Just like the Keeling case, the aftermath of this already terrible incident has been even more hideously abhorrent, while also nakedly communal. The police tried to destroy evidence. A mob of lawyers shouting ‘Jai Shree Ram’ attempted to prevent charges from being filed, and the judge only accepted the chargesheet after being pressured by the High Court. Defiant protests – often wielding the national flag – continue to roil Kathua, sometimes joined by senior state ministers calling for the release of the accused. This atrocious behaviour is not restricted to the ruling coalition, however. There is deafening silence from the opposition, as well as civil society organizations, in a broad coalition of complicity in the perversion of justice. Just over five years ago, another sickening crime seemed to have jolted the country to real change. In Delhi in December 2012, the 23-year-old now known as ‘Nirbhaya’ and her friend got into an off-duty charter bus, when they were offered a ride home by its occupants. It was a trap. Both the innocents were beaten nearly to death, and the young woman was barbarically raped and also literally eviscerated (her intestines were ripped apart). She died a few days later, amidst a wave of angry protests that eventually triggered a judicial commission and some new laws, which have criminalized a wide range of harassment against women including voyeurism and stalking. But the legal system only holds good as the people who uphold it, as well as the society it serves. It has been ten long years, and the results for Scarlett Keeling and her bereaved family add up to precisely zero. What is more, as we seen in Kathua, laws alone are no recourse when the entire administrative machinery, plus all of the social framework as well as the political hierarchy opts to abdicate responsibility. This is not just a local issue, whether in Goa or Jammu. Instead it is a full-blown constitutional crisis, with the future of Indian democracy at stake.