Social justice activists question silence over sexual violence against Dalit women

Published: January 28, 2013

GURPREET SINGH
RADIO INDIA

Dalit women

Activist wonder why there has generally been silence over ongoing sexual abuse of poor Dalit and tribal women in rural India. Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images

The social justice activists representing Dalits or oppressed groups also known as “untouchables” in caste-ridden Indian society have questioned the silence over continued sexual violence against Dalit and tribal women in the world’s largest secular democracy.

The outrage sparked by the gang rape and murder of a student, 23, in New Delhi in December came into question at a seminar organized Sunday by several groups at Douglas College in New Westminster, B.C.

While the speakers agreed that the Delhi tragedy was “unacceptable” and “brutal,” they wondered why, in contrast, there has generally been silence over ongoing sexual abuse of the poor Dalit and tribal women in rural India.

Selected clips from the famous film “Bandit Queen” were also shown at the event, which was jointly organized by Chetna Association, Ambedkar International Co-ordination Society of Canada, Indian Buddhist Society and Sant Sarwan Dass Charitable Trust.

The film was based on the life of Phoolan Devi, a prominent female rebel from India, who joined bandits to avenge gang rape by the so called upper caste men.

She eventually murdered those who outraged her modesty.

Devi later turned into a politician and was murdered in 2001.

Jai Birdi of Chetna Association said that Devi was forced to take matters into her own hands when Indian society and the state failed her.

“I still remember that the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, went to offer her condolences to the families of those who were gunned down by Phoolan Devi, but the Indian state never came to her support when she was subjected to sexual violence.”

He added that because of this selective and prejudiced approach towards the victims of violence, the stories of oppression against Dalit women have largely remained unheard.

The seminar was held close to the 64th Republic Day of India, which fell on Jan. 26.

Since the Indian constitution was authored by Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, a Dalit icon, the function was dedicated to him.

“Though Indian constitution bars caste-based discrimination and oppression it continues against our community. Dalits and women being the weaker sections of the society suffer the most,” according to Birdi.

MLA Raj Chouhan, who was one of the speakers, said with a choked voice, “I have seen this film many times. It has always turned me emotional.”

He linked the pitiable situation of Dalit women in India with the plight of aboriginal women in Canada, who have also remained vulnerable to sexual violence.

Kamlesh Ahir, a prominent social justice activist in the local South Asian community, recalled that she had participated in rallies that were organized in support of Phoolan Devi following her arrest.

“What choice does a poor and oppressed woman have when she is raped and there is no justice? She will either commit suicide or take the law into her own hands.”

Sita Ram Ahir, another Dalit activist, said that his father faced persecution in his village when he had testified against those involved in a rape of a Dalit girl.

Kuwant Sandi listed many recent cases of rapes involving Dalit victims that have either remained unreported or did not spark outrage or anger in the civil society.

Others who spoke on the occasion were Paramjit Kainth, Paramjit Banga, Surjit Bains, Kanwaljit Jassi, Barinder Bhatti, Ravi and Mohan Banga.


Tags: , ,





Featured

TK

Man who punched cab, bus drivers in Surrey gets another year in jail

JENNIFER SALTMAN VANCOUVER DESI A man who committed a series of assaults on a young woman, two cab drivers and a bus driver will spend…
Continue Reading »

DESI-SURREY-BURNABY

B.C. wrestler awarded belated gold medal

VANCOUVER DESI Burnaby Central graduate Amar Dhesi has become the first Indo Canadian to win gold at the FILA Junior World Championships in freestyle wrestling….
Continue Reading »

Desi Sex

Australian political candidate fired for promoting Sunny Leone’s Melbourne tour (w/gallery)

VANCOUVER DESI A political candidate in Australia has been fired for his reported involvement in the promotions for Indo Canadian porn star Sunny Leone’s upcoming…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

TK

Man who punched cab, bus drivers in Surrey gets another year in jail

JENNIFER SALTMAN VANCOUVER DESI A man who committed a series of assaults on a young woman, two cab drivers and a bus driver will spend…
Continue Reading »

Today in History – Dec. 7

Advance THE CANADIAN PRESS Today in History for Dec. 7: On this date: In AD 374, Ambrose, an early church father, was consecrated Bishop of…
Continue Reading »

Today in History – Dec. 9

Advance THE CANADIAN PRESS Today in History for Dec. 9: On this date: In 1608, English poet John Milton was born in London. In 1755,…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

NDP Minister

Editorial: Amrik Virk should do the honourable thing and resign

THE PROVINCE If Advanced Education Minister and former Mountie Amrik Virk doesn’t understand why he should resign his portfolio, Premier Christy Clark should ease him…
Continue Reading »

murder-suicide

Girls hanged from tree died by suicide, say Indian investigators who ruled out gang rape

MUNEEZA NAQVI THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW DELHI — India’s top investigative agency said Thursday that two teenage girls believed to have been raped and hanged…
Continue Reading »

Surrey crash-desi

Surrey crash victim’s son says deporting parolee would ‘send a message’

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW SURREY — A Surrey man who killed an elderly man when he smashed his brother’s Corvette into a Surrey bus shelter…
Continue Reading »

Islamophobia

Stereotyping is alive and well when it comes to Muslim and Sikh religious symbols in Canada

GORDON MCINTYRE VANCOUVER DESI One-third of British Columbians believe radicalized people live among us, according to a poll commissioned by The Province. The survey of…
Continue Reading »

TANDOORI KINGS OF COMEDY

Abbotsford comics’ bid for TV show doesn’t make the cut

VANCOUVER DESI After more than a month of contest challenges and video production, two Abbotsford comedians’ pitch for a cross-cultural comedy show will not be…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Desi Sex

Australian political candidate fired for promoting Sunny Leone’s Melbourne tour (w/gallery)

VANCOUVER DESI A political candidate in Australia has been fired for his reported involvement in the promotions for Indo Canadian porn star Sunny Leone’s upcoming…
Continue Reading »

Veena Malik

Bollywood actress Veena Malik’s five top controversies before blasphemy charges

HINDUSTAN TIMES Controversy seems to be Veena Malik’s second name. As she accepted herself in an interview to Hindustan Times a few years back, it…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood sex

Sonam Kapoor: Bollywood’s ‘hungry young woman’

IANS New Delhi – Actress Sonam Kapoor seems to have taken inspiration from Bollywood’s angry young man title, but with a twist. The actress has…
Continue Reading »