Gender violence - A Dalit's curse and a nation at its worst
Dalit, Women, Girl, Murder, Gang Rape, off late seem to be the most frequently used keywords on any media page, articles or newspaper. Starting with the most brutal, inhuman recent incident of Hathras Gang Rape on 14 September 2020, till today not one day has been spared without media having to alert a similar incident. On the same day, when Hathras victim's destiny was decided by a group of barbaric, inhuman, blood humans, another Dalit woman from Rajasthan claimed that she was gang raped by three men on 15 September 2020. Balarampur district in UP witnessed the vicious attempt by two enthusiastic youth. Four men in Gaya District showered their manhood on a 22-year old Dalit girl on 2 October 2020. A week later, 9 October 2020, a lower court finally convicted five Gurjar men of gang raping a 19-year old Dalit girl right infront of her fiance in Rajasthan last year. Not just young girls but the older ones have no different plight, 75 year old woman became a victim of the gang rape in God's Own Country a month back or so. Last year around this time, a young girl succumbed to multiple injuries caused by yet another ferocious attempt by four beasts in her own hometown at Aurangabad. Victims may change, convicts might be different, verdicts may differ, places may vary, situations may alter but the bottom line remains the same, the pain, the turmoil, the aftermath does not change.
Many of us explicitly expressed our fury on social media platforms, why is the word "Dalit" being given so much of importance and so much hype? Is it because it creates a sympathy or that it attracts audience? Agree! Dalit, Privileged or Upper Caste, a woman's emotions, self esteem and pain remains the same, it does not change with the taglines that we are all born with but we like it or not Dalit woman in Indian society are deprived not just once but thrice, being a woman, a Dalit and most importantly being poor. The political, economic & academic reservations & privileges which originated to empower them have actually in a way led to the envious moves against them as an attempt to destroy their perceived growing assertion. Most of the Dalit women don't even report the atrocities against them due to shame and a sense of dishonor and even if they come forward to file a report, their reports are either ignored or delayed due to multiple reasons. Even if these women cross through all these hurdles, the chances of their beasts being convicted are very rare. Several such cases under the stringent act are pending under different stages of trial and the overall conviction rate still remains 33%.
This sorry state is despite reserving 84/534 seats in the Lok Sabha for the privileged communities, Dalits remaining a crucial vote bank, policies like "Ambedkar Social Innovation Incubation Mission" to support exclusive Dalit Start Ups & much more and above all the country, being led by a Dalit President. With that said, the question that we are all forced to ponder upon is, what are these privileges, entitlements, special importance doing to the under privileged at the grassroot level ? Are they truly being empowered or being the victims of hostility, envy and resentment of the so called forward castes magnified with every single benefit that gets added to the underprivileged, sexual crimes and gender violence being the powerful tool for subjugation. Sexual harassment of Dalit women is a message to Dalits reminding them of their positions in the society. What hurts the most is that despite understanding the brutality of the incidents, the society justifies it as, "boys make mistakes", " Women lure attackers".
Back in 1995, the world adopted 11 October as the International Day for Girl Child with the vision of ending discrimination against women and girls. But today, 25 years later, discrimination and limiting stereotypes remain rife not just between the genders but societal sectors fabricated by man, not just in the number of incidents but rise in the brutality of such crimes, when young girls could’nt even get over the word "Rape" it became "gang rape", when being gang raped was a shame, the filming of the entire act became a trend, when the trial for rape became fierce, murder was the choice sought, before the body could get over the pain, disfiguring the genitals became so popular.
So what next? Call it venomous manly vigoror caste-based hostility, when punishments didn’t work, trials failed, awareness was not attended to, what is the way out? The only way out as suggested by several social scientists is a two-way approach where both the victims as well as the society need to be worked upon. Systemic sustained assistance to the victims and sensitizing society to rise above caste barriers and gender biases, though it is easier said than done but a calculated & holistic approach can bring about unbelievable change.