It’s been 7 decades of independence, yet India has been unable to destroy the caste system.
In India, sexual violence is an ordinary event. When it comes to violence on the basis of caste, it becomes more common. The ghost of an evil caste system is still part of our society. No political party has tried to end this caste system. Politicians are also confining Dalits to the vote.
When I heard that a Dalit woman had been raped, I was shocked. But many people started asking why are you seeing caste in this? Every time news of caste-based violence makes it to mainstream media, so-called upper caste media professionals automatically blame and pronounce that caste cannot have played a role.
Caste is a living reality in India. The National Crime Records Bureau (2019) reports that 10 Dalit women are raped every day in our country. These figures are those whose reports were recorded, but the real figures are many more than this and tell a terrible picture.
UP saw a 25 percent increase in crimes against Dalits between 2015 and 2016. In the Hathras case, the mainstream media showed it, but why does it not seem necessary until something terrible happens. Will you tell us that any work is done in our society without seeing caste?
We also get married by looking at caste and vote by seeing caste. When I spoke to Damini kain, who is doing her Masters in Political Science at Delhi University, and also hails from Western Uttar Pradesh, about the violence that women face due to caste, She said that “When it comes to crimes against the Dalit community, we are evasive to the extent of being oppressive.”
She also says that the nexus of upper-caste dominance, even in the Hathras case, is a reflection of how Dalit women are treated, even by lawmakers. I talked to Jolene who is studying Women, Culture and Development, and she said that the same hierarchical structure is present in Dalit politics.
She also pointed out that women are left out from the political structure. The structure of Dalit politics is very exclusionary and alienated for women who come from a marginalized community.
She added that women from subaltern communities face oppression on the basis of caste, class and gender. Dalit men should welcome women from the subaltern community. She also pointed out that Kanshiram and Ambedkar believed in the movement led by women.
All parties will crash if they don’t welcome women. The rise in sexual crimes and barbaric atrocities isn’t fueled by caste dynamics alone. The Dalit women who have the least amount of social and legal protection are an easy target.
When I say that not one, but many factories are behind this crime, by this I mean that rape is seen as a weapon for avenging animosity. I myself come from the so-called high caste, and I have to say with shame, that the manner in which the voice of Dalit women is being suppressed is so wrong.
I was brought up in a family where Ambedkar was abused because he had given reservation to Dalits. I come from a so-called privileged family where Dalit issues are not even discussed.
There is no talk about caste oppression and there is separate pride about caste. There is a particular thought process behind rape; the idea that “we are powerful and you are weak.”
When this happens to a Dalit woman, they want to say that the dignity of a girl coming from the so-called low caste is even more vulnerable.
What can we do to annihilate caste? Can inter-caste marriages destroy caste? If we want to destroy caste, we have to teach children about caste from childhood. Children have to be made aware of caste.
Inter-caste marriage is also good because we understand our partner’s struggle. When I married inter-caste, I understood the struggle and got a chance to read about Ambedkar well. In school also, teachers have to be made aware of caste and the upper caste children will have to be explained about reservation and what it is necessary for.