Rape in India: Why are there no mass protests for raped Dalit women?
By Shenali Waduge
The question is very simple. While rape in any form is abhorred and should be severely punished by all nations what needs to be answered is what makes the recent gangrape by 6 men of a 23 year old on a bus in Delhi any different from the gangrape of a 16 year old Dalit women by 8 men who having taken photos of the crime had circulated it amongst the village leading to her father committing suicide out of shame? This Dalit girl was raped in 2011 and questions why there were no mass protests, no media attention for her or calls to arrest the perpetrators but the recent rape has turned into a national demonstration? In a country where Dalits are considered the “Untouchables” 10million Dalit girls are raped annually and questions why non-Dalits have cared little for their justice – they may be Dalits but they are women as well!
Statistics revealed by the Government of India declares that every 20 minutes a woman is raped in India. India’s Union Home Ministry says India is ranked third in rape after US and Africa.
India’s national crime records show that 228,650 of the 256,329 violent crimes recorded in 2011 were against women. The conviction rate for rape cases is just 26%.
According to the NCRB records for registered rape cases Delhi tops the chart followed by Mumbai, Bhopal, Pune and Jaipur.
In term of states Madhya Pradesh tops list with 15,275 registered rapes following by Bengal (11,427), Uttar Pradesh (8834), Assam (8060) and Maharashtra (7703) – Times of India report.
National Crime Records Bureau – http://ncrb.nic.in/
Crime Statistics Against Women in India – http://www.indiastat.com/
There are 80 million Dalit women in India.
Sexual violence is suffered by Dalit women systematically as a means of punishment, control and dominance by men of higher castes. Rape is an especially difficult situation to be dealt with. In addition to shame, women also face a stigma associated with that type of physical assault. A large number of rapes go unreported due to fear of ostracism and victims being threatened with further attacks if they come forward.
Most women do not report any form of violence because less than 1% cases actually filed end in convictions. If you are a poor woman who is raped, you cannot expect justice. If you are a poor woman and a Dalit the chances of justice are even slimmer. This is the sad fate for Dalit women in India.
Every 18minutes a crime is committed against a Dalit. Every day 3 Dalit women at least are raped. Every day 2 Dalits at least are murdered, 11 Dalits are beaten or 2 Dalit houses are burnt in India.
37% of Dalits live far below the poverty line. More than 54% of Dalit children are undernourished, 83 per 1000 live birth children born to Dalits dye before their first birthday. 45% of Dalits cannot read or write. 1/3 of Dalit households do not have basic facilities. Public health workers refuse to visit Dalit homes. In 27.6% of villages Dalits are prevented from entering police stations. In 37.8% of Government schools Dalit children have to sit separately even while eating. In 23.5% of villages in India, Dalits do not even get mail delivered. In 48.4% of villages Dalits were denied access to water resources because they were “untouchables”.
The treatment towards Dalits are horrifying – more than 1.3 million Dalits – mostly women – are employed as manual scavengers to clear human waste from dry pit latrines.
Haryana the state where the 16 year old Dalit girl was raped is a state famous for illegal practice of female infanticide and foeticide where there are 861 girls per 1000 boys. The preference for sons has created unprecedented problems. According to the most recent estimates, China and India account for nearly 80 per cent of all ‘missing women’ in the world.”
Indian government reports reveal that between 1999 and 2001 as many as 89 percent of trials involving offenses against Dalits resulted in acquittals.
Sadly 96.6% Dalits are Buddhists. There are 165million Dalits in India and 260m Dalits the world over.
2009 report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Dalit Women
Rape, female foeticide, violence against women, gender discrimination, physical abuse are all problems that women in India have to go through and to this list honor killings have to also be added. Every year there are more than 1000 honor killings in India and now these murders are taking place abroad as well.
The Davadasi system is still practiced in some parts of India where girls as young as 6 years old become “brides of Gods” and are raped by men of higher castes in temples. Young women are also later forced into prostitution through this system. Violent atrocities occur regularly in the names of tradition and religion.
Where is the HUMAN RIGHTS for these DALITS and what are UN /INGOs/NGOs doing to help Dalits live with some means of dignity and respect?
Why are journalists and media silent about featuring these atrocities against Dalits nationally and forcing policy makers to change their attitude with stringent laws? Why do they not highlight the daily rapes and humiliations Dalits – men, women and children suffer from on a daily basis…. Are these people not Indian citizens worthy of protection by Indian laws and Indian society?
While all these crimes are certainly appalling there is little nationwide concern to change the manner Indians treat the Dalits and that looked forward to justice is unlikely to happen whatever position India gains globally. The problem lies in the lack of political will while the Delhi gangrape has seen thousands congregate in protest demanding statements and actions from India’s PM, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister – not a single voice was raised for the 16year old Dalit girl or for any of the thousands of Dalits who have been daily raped by Indian men over the years.
A rape is a rape and all women deserve the same justice – the same mass protests – the same media attention and the same political will….even the Dalits.
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Shenali, your artcle is as informative as usual. I am appalled by the human rights abuse of the Dalits, especially their women, and the utterly poor response by the Central Govt and the State govts.
What are the INGOs and NGOs and other Social Organisations for the safety of women and their rights in India and abroad doing about it. What are the religious organisations in India, especially the Catholic and Christian organisations in India doing about it. Should they not organise a massive campaign against it in India, with film stars and other leading celebrities supporting them?
This matter must be raised at UNHRC by concerned organisations in India and abroad, including church organisations. Why are they silent? India must be named and shamed at UNHRC level.
I was surprised to hear that 96.6% of Dalits are Buddhists. In which case Buddhist organisatios in SE Asia should be united to come to the aid of their fellow Buddhists in India. I hope therefore the Hon President and PM of SL raise this issue with the President and PM of India to bring harsh penalties to those who abuse the human rights of Dalit women especially and impose death penalty to the crime of rape irrespective of thier caste.
It was disgraceful of India to have gone back on their word given to Hon President of SL by the Foreign Minister of India that they will not support USA in the debate raised by USA at UNHRC on alleged war crimes by SL during the War of Liberation to annhilate terrorist LTTE completely. Isn’t it time SL raise at UNHRC the matter of human rights abuse of Buddhist Dalits and the rape of their women in India with little or no justice for them?
that is why sl is forming red light area in colombo.
By the way before your try to solve India’s rape matters, please! please! please! solve the massive rape cases in Sri Lanka which are not registered, because some poitician and their bodyguards are involved in it.Of course Shenali writes good articles, but just one sided. Shenali, when it comes to raping, specially small kids, then you must be fair and pinpoint the responsible people, doesn’t matter to which political party they belong.
Jayaraj, rape has ocurred since the dawn of mankind and will continue to happen, because of the baser instincts of man i.e. cave man instincts.
Religion should help man to sublimate these baser instincts and rise above them to be noble, to pursue spiritual values, to be moral, as man is a rational animal.
No matter whether a man is rich or poor, whether he belongs to the right or left in politics, as long as he has no moral/spiritual values he is bound to sink to his base, degrading animal level.
Civil law is there to prevent this and to maintain law and order and justice in civilised society. However, the execution of legislature and judiciary can sometimes fail in many countries. How lamentable!
We hope the rapists will get the punishment they deserve in the hands of the Ultimate Lawgiver for all eternity unless they atones for their crimes, make compensation to the victims and seek their forgiveness and seek mercy from the Supreme Being.
Shanali, you have covered the situation in India. Women, especially low cast women do not have any rights there / violence directed at them on a daily basis. And the defening silence from the human rights gurus / NGOs……..When the young girl/child in Sri Lanka was raped and killed by a group of boys / teenagers, the President was blamed!!!…….True, it is the reposibility of the government to proect the children / citizens…..Like India now has to face their demons….Sri Lanka has to do the same. From the rape and killing of the child rises questions….What leads children so young to commit such horric crimes? In most cases violence is ‘leant’ at home…Qestion that needs to be addressed is …were these young boys subject to violent crimes at home? are they themselves victims of rape as very young children?……Does Sri Lanka need to strengthen laws preventing / proecting children from crimes / sexaul and violent crimes? Even in the child’s home / within the family…..sensitive area of human relations / failure!