Posted on: October 29, 2020 Posted by: Aditi Comments: 0
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“When Dalits stand up for justice their mothers and daughters are raped”[1]

Justice for the women of the oppressed classes is a haze idea because here two powerful forces of sexism and casteism overlap each other, making a lethal combination for justifying the sexual atrocities against the women of these sections. A Dalit woman is raped by a man who belongs to the Savarna community, and the whole system starts framing the woman’s family in constituting a ‘conspiracy’ to frame the man. The casteism-ridden Indian society justifies acts done in name of caste. Article 17 of the Indian Constitution abolishes untouchability, and still, it is prevalent in the various parts of India. The denial of the practice of discrimination against these lower classes has only increased the problem. The lower caste allegedly disrespected the Savarna class generations ago. This created fear and anguish in the minds of the Savarna class that they would no longer be able to exploit the lower castes. The men, therefore, raped the women to take away the honor of the family and to show them their respective place in the social structure. The police agencies not only tried to bury the case but also repressed the family of the victim. Any access to the family by the media and political leaders was denied.

The active and passive injustices against a victim can be broadly showcased from the incident at Hathras. The police not registering an FIR, the body of the victim being cremated under pressure from the social and political system, the denial of any access to media, the threats given to the victim’s family to withdraw the case, the fear in the minds of victims family to leave their livelihood and move to another place if they want to ensure justice for their daughter, the allegations on the victim about staging a false case of sexual assault, labeling the incident as a conspiracy against the Savarna class, the coming together of the upper caste men to protest against the arrest of the accused, local political leaders supporting this upper caste group, and many more instances, in this case, are the instances of grave active injustices. Passive injustice is very common in cases relating to sexual atrocities against women and the atrocities against the oppressed classes. Individuals make up a society and help in its functioning, and when such crimes take place, the silence or the passiveness from the sides of various individuals give a boost to the accused to commit such crimes and also for others to commit similar crimes. As grave as active injustice seems to be, similar is passive injustice. The lack of debate around the topics of rape and caste-based atrocities, the lack of properly educating and sensitizing individuals, and the prevalent social norms which lack sensitivity towards the victims, the oppressed, and the outcasts have resulted in passive injustice against the victims.

The issue of casteism and sexism cannot be done away with within a short period. It will take many years to undo the damage that has been inflicted upon them in the name of caste or sex, and then even more years to create an equal society where justice to each individual is ensured irrespective of their gender or caste. But it is needed that we take a step forward now when the injustices by the same authorities have come to broad daylight, the same authorities who were supposed to ensure justice to everyone, to understand the need for not only legal reforms but also social reforms. Legal reforms are redundant without social reforms.

“Upper caste men think they have the right to the bodies of Dalit women. This is something we have seen growing up. Parents have to tell daughters to stay far away from upper-caste men because they know they can’t fight for justice…”

This is the reason for which social reform is needed. The education system, the societal structure, and the patriarchal system have molded the minds of individuals in such a way that it became right to violate women for revenge. And that we all are keeping mum against these systems is passive injustice against the victims.


[1] Shivam Vij, Dalit Women Often Face Sexual Violence Because Of, Yes, Their Caste, The Print, 30th September 2020, https://theprint.in/opinion/dalit-women-often-face-sexual-violence-because-of-yes-their-caste/513991/

Aditi
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A second year law student at HPNLU, Shimla.

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