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When Rape Is Used As A Weapon To Silence The Assertions Of The ‘Lower’ Castes

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By Jhalak Agarwal:

Whenever we are fighting for a woman’s rights, we say that the caste of a woman is not a determining factor. A misdemeanor against a woman of any caste will not be tolerated. But is it really true? Although we pretend that we have modernized and we have got rid of all the caste prejudices, but in reality we still give priority to caste and religious identities of a person over their gender or anything else. It is what defines us above all. The upper castes grow up believing that they can treat the lower caste in whatever way they like. Rape is just one way in which the upper caste tries to force their superiority on the lower castes.

bhagana protest

We saw one such example in the recent kidnapping and rape of four young Dalit girls belonging to the Balmiki community that took place in Bhagana village on March 23rd, 2014. They were abducted by five Jat boys of the same village. They were drugged as well as raped by the five boys. The girls found themselves at the Bhatinda railway station the next morning in a deplorable condition. Even though the Sarpanch was aware about the incident and knew exactly where the girls were, he did not tell the parents until they threatened to lodge a complaint in the police station.

This clearly shows that despite knowing what was going on, the Sarpanch made no effort to stop it and the police didn’t even mention him in the FIR when actually he was the mastermind of the whole operation. We keep highlighting the anti-rape laws but why is it that they are given significance only when the question is about an upper caste girl? Why aren’t the anti-rape laws used now for the Dalit girls? Why are the perpetrators in such cases always freed as soon as possible? Is justice a virtue only for the rich and the upper caste people?

While all of us were outraged at the December 16 rape case, none of us even bothered to question the administration on why there has been no action in this case. In fact, most of us didn’t even know about this incident. Why is it that when there are incidents of horrifying gang rapes of Dalit girls, we turn a deaf ear towards it? Are they not human? Is our mindset really that based on caste? Isn’t it our responsibility to remind the administration that the dignity of every woman is equally important and just because a woman is a Dalit, it doesn’t reduce the importance of her life.

The perpetrators think that they are immune from prosecution against Dalit women because the police choose to neglect the enforcement of law. Entire communities of the perpetrators use their social, economic as well as political power in order to silence the Dalit women. This is done to deny them access to justice. This has resulted in a rise in the number of atrocities faced by Dalit women. While on the one hand the number of atrocities are increasing day by day, on the other hand, there is barely any action taken by the police, government or even the various organizations like The National Human Rights Commission, The National Commission for Women, The National Commission for Schedule Castes and the National Commission for Safai Karmcharis which are supposed to help with these cases only. Such organizations are helpless and as worthless as the other government organizations.

Another shocking incident was when the Haryana government of Bhupendra Singh Hooda filed a case of sedition against an activist who was fighting for Dalit rights. He did it because the Dalits were on a protest against the government for its insensitivity towards the Dalits. What is really shocking is that while the Dalits are considered untouchables and are not allowed inside the temples, they are raped by the same Jats. Doesn’t this contradict the very statement of the Dalits being ‘untouchables’ which has been propagated by them only? The Jats have used their power and thrown the Dalits who revolted outside the village. Although we have an Indian Constitution to help us, it doesn’t work for these people. We do have writs to help us but they can’t even use it.

In our country, being a Dalit woman holds many disadvantages — she is mostly poor, a woman and an ‘untouchable’. None of these things work in your favor. She is discouraged by our society for all of these reasons. She will probably never get the justice she deserves. The administration acts like they will help her but they never do. Even in the ‘Nirbhaya’ case, action was taken because the public came down to help. The Dalits need our help as they are facing these atrocities every single day and its time that we put an end to it. The government, the police and above all the Jats need to know that they cannot get their way by using their power and their acts have consequences. They should know that they will be put behind bars if they misbehave with any woman. It’s time that we give the Dalit women an opportunity to live their lives with dignity and self-respect.

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  1. Prashant Kaushik

    Well Done.. you deserve a UN award for this innovation. Rapes mein Castes ka tadka laga ke, khoob bikega ye article !! ( Mix Rape discussion with castes complexities to gain more attention and popularity

    I feel ashamed of my country that it produces some pseudo intellectuals like you who go on to exploit the already complicated social situations and in our country for gaining more ‘Likes’ for their creative writing. I am sure there would be many who may give accolades to you but sorry I cant.

    My Simple questions to you are ?

    1) Are upper castes girls safe on the roads of Delhi or the villages ?
    2) Are all rapes committed by only upper caste men ?
    3) MOST IMPORTANTLY, When they were protesting in December, Did the public even know the caste of the girl in Delhi Bus gang rape ?

    Rape can happen with anyone. The perpetrators will not spare a girl if she belongs to any religion, region or caste.
    Yes, one thing could possibly play a role. The financial and political status of the victims. Had the 4 poor Dalit girls been economically and politically powerful, would any one have messed up with their dignity with such ease?
    The weakness lies not in their caste status rather their economic status.
    (ANd yes, even economic empowerment may not be a fool-proof safeguard against rapes but it does acts as a deterrent .)

    In the delhi Bus gang rape, the identity or caste of the girl had been hidden for several months, while the public had revolted in December 2012 itself. I strongly criticize this mis-judgement of yours when you say the people came on revolts because she was from upper caste.

    The Indian public feels agitated everytime a rape occures. I don’t think people sitting in this part of the world would take any soft stand on rapes just because the victims happen to be from a particular caste.

    What we need are a strong laws and their better implementation, mass-awakening in men ( of all castes and religions)

    Pls for God sake , don’t paint this barbaric crime with colors of castes or religion.

    1. youth_today

      Sir, I appreciate the time and energy spent on framing the above .. But I would like to say that in my opinion the author of this article does not mean to trivialize these ghastly incidences.. Rather she means to add a new dimension to the nature and causes of rape in our country.. Without any disrespect to any community and any section of society.. I would like to mention that social status does play a role in any kind of subjugation..and power.. Economic or otherwise.. Gives men and offenders the guts to carry out the crime… And in communities where caste is a manifestation of power… Rapists do use it to commit yhe henious act and exculpate themselves. This said, you are entitled to your opinion.. Buy please do not discard alternative or lateral views as unfathomable.

    2. Parboni

      Sir,if you go through the article you will understand the writer has not in anyway denied what you are arguing.However,she is right in pointing out that the crimes against Dalit women are not registered, and people don’t pay attention to it.Our newspapers report it in the same manner.Dalits are oppressed in the society,and the writer just adds this perspective.Plus as a writer myself i think it is very insensitive to classify someone’s viewpoint as something creatively written for sale purposes.This is a platform of experiencing opinions,none of get paid that we would write something that sells well!:/

    3. Rajendra Prasad Singaria

      Rape which is really barbaric incident and may be happen with any girl, doesn’t matter that she is from upper cast or lower cast. But as the jhalak is tries to point out is absolutely write, she only want to indicate that lower cast girls not getting the right and impactful steps against the rape case, even mostly cases does not reach upto the register of the police station, and salute to our protector (Police) they also tries to away from these cases. as being the Indians or any people of the world will not tolerate perpetrators, then who protect them- these are our high profile peoples who are directly and indirectly related with that event.

    4. vikas

      My dear , I think you have some miss interpretation or Don’nt have knowledge about caste base crime. Moreover you do not know much about the meaning of oppressed word. Yes you are right upper caste girl are not safe too. Because they know that the chances of their voices can be heard easily . Here the matter is acknowledging the plea with empathy , of victim which is nowhere seen with lower caste people. And if we take the percentage of crime (rape) done by lower caste against any caste and their conviction rate then it is very high. These people do not have power to bullying higher caste people . But if talk about upper caste then the scenario is something opposite they are feeling pride and think they had achieved something big.

      Now come to development , empowerment and economic status. Development = f(empowerment)
      Empowerment =f( feeling of belongingness , happiness, right of say, acknowledgement, social acceptance, etc) . I am feeling ashamed on those people who pretend to be pseudo- neturalist. That too after enjoying the legacy of 6000 year and had opportunities to flourishes in all direction now they are feeling incompetent just only in 60 year. Dear if you really want to bring change than just go and live few weeks with lower caste and just get victimized and go for filing complaints to police with the nAme of same lower caste then you feel how much these people are being entertained judiciously.

      Now for bringing economic status as a parameter for considering someone’s for accessing government benefits. Here the big problems how we evaluate economic status:-
      On income basis?
      Value of asset holding ?
      Rate of accumulation of asset ?

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