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

RASODE main

Surrey mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode collaborates with long-serving police chief in crime-fighting platform

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Surrey mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode officially released her platform on crime Thursday morning, which includes a resounding endorsement from the “longest-serving…
Continue Reading »

SCOTLAND

Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, values of peace and non-violence to be celebrated at SFU

VANCOUVER DESI In honour of Mahatma Gandhi’s 145th birth anniversary on Thursday, a garlanding ceremony will be held at Burnaby’s SFU campus. The annual ceremony,…
Continue Reading »

politics-social media-Facebook-twitter

Indian PM Narendra Modi has more American Facebook fans than most U.S. politicians

IANS Washington – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has more Facebook fans in the US than most current members of Congress, governors and other political…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

RASODE main

Surrey mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode collaborates with long-serving police chief in crime-fighting platform

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Surrey mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode officially released her platform on crime Thursday morning, which includes a resounding endorsement from the “longest-serving…
Continue Reading »

SCOTLAND

Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, values of peace and non-violence to be celebrated at SFU

VANCOUVER DESI In honour of Mahatma Gandhi’s 145th birth anniversary on Thursday, a garlanding ceremony will be held at Burnaby’s SFU campus. The annual ceremony,…
Continue Reading »

Playing soccer on artificial turf compared to Olympic sprinter on cinder track

THE CANADIAN PRESS Hall of Famer Carrie Serwetnyk says playing the Women’s World Cup on artificial turf is like making an Olympic athlete run on…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

drug-chemical-ban-India

Health Canada bans some drugs from India on quality concerns

THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Health Canada says it is banning imports of some medications and drug ingredients produced in India due to concerns about…
Continue Reading »

DINNER WHITE HOUSE

What’s on the White House menu for Indian PM Narendra Modi who’s fasting?

CONNIE CASS THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — What do you serve a man who isn’t eating? Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was served warm water…
Continue Reading »

dog-rock-tar

Video: Rescue story of a dog that fell into hot tar and turned into a rock

VANCOUVER DESI A team of animal rescuers in Western India spent two days working to free a helpless dog trapped in a pile of hot…
Continue Reading »

body image-beauty-weight-control

Self-compassion leads to positive body image in women

IANS Toronto – Women who accept and tolerate their bodily imperfections appear to have a more positive body image despite their high body mass index…
Continue Reading »

1PNG_0929N_CITY_INQUEST_218232808

Close the Vancouver airport immigration cells where Mexican woman hanged herself: lawyer

SUSAN LAZARUK VANCOUVER DESI Canada should close the immigration holding centre where a Mexican woman awaiting deportation hanged herself, and put up detainees in hotels,…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Priyanka Chopra

Gallery: Bollywood celebs — then and now

VANCOUVER DESI We are loyal Bollywood fans and have followed our favourites through the years, be it the Khans or the beauty queens. Here’s a…
Continue Reading »

BOLLYWOOD

Haider: A powerful revenge saga (w/trailer)

TROY RIBEIRO IANS  Film: “Haider”; Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Kay Kay Menon, Shraddha Kapoor, Irrfan Khan; Director: Vishal Bhardwaj; Rating: *** 1/2) With revenge as…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Hrithik Roshan: Adversity is a gym for the mind

RASHIKA BHIRANI IANS  New Delhi – He overcame stammering; witnessed his father’s failure as an actor and producer and his surviving a gunshot wound; saw…
Continue Reading »