Often caste and patriarchy are seen as two different aspects and two different forms of stratification in human society. If we look into the meanings and try to understand their oppressive effects, they are quite similar in their approach. We find that they sabotage the marginalised in such a way that the oppressed as marked with a degrading character.
Caste and patriarchy go hand in hand because caste is itself, patriarchal in nature.
Dalit activist Ruth Manorama in her concept of Dalit feminism points out that Dalit women face cyclical oppression in three ways: caste, class and gender. Women belonging to a lower caste community, with weak economic backgrounds face horrendous discrimination in their social life.
Feminism with its vast explanations and variety in addressing women rights in India destroy the fact that Dalit women do not find a voice in their attempt to define feminism. The unpleasant work of manual scavenging, gender wage gap, poor social and economic lifestyle are injustices that prevail. Yet, the flag of feminism fails to even recognise the left out Dalit women.
There has been little literature, few workshops, and not many movements to address the specific conditions of Dalit women.
Caste in its most devastating form has led patriarchy to deepen its roots in oppression. Social life in India has failed miserably to address caste and patriarchy in the same light.
Views of eradicating caste-based discrimination without acknowledging the tree of patriarchy within the caste system itself will lead us nowhere.
How are we going to deal with patriarchal norms ?
How are we going to address the issues of Dalit women in the light of caste, class and gender ?
What is our blueprint to eradicate caste-based discrimination while the system of caste continues to blatantly exist?
Is it really possible to make Indian society free from caste?
It is evident that caste discrimination and oppression on women will be finished only when patriarchy and caste system is gone. We cannot idealise a liberal and democratic society with the presence of institutions like caste and patriarchy.