Violence and atrocities against Dalits in India are increasing, access to justice is not
Violence and atrocities against Dalits are rising in India and there is an urgent need to step up efforts to ensure justice for victims finds a new report on access to justice released by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), supported by Christian Aid and the European Union.
The report concludes that dominant castes in India are using violence against Dalits to reinforce the hierarchical caste related power structures and suppress Dalit rights assertions and claims. At the same time access to justice for Dalits is dismally low, for example, the report states that according to Government crime statistics, at the end of 2014, 85% crimes against Dalits filed under the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act (SC/ST PoA Act) were pending trial across the country. Convictions were awarded in only 28% of cases in 2014 that completed trial. Dalit human rights defenders, attempting to help victims of injustice, are found to suffer police violence and torture, intimidation, harassment and in some cases murder. The report stresses that the protection of Dalit human rights defenders is deeply lacking.
The report also analyses the rising violence against Dalit women, highlighting that rape cases registered against Dalit women has increased with over 47% since the previous decade. The report states that the data on Dalit women exemplifies how they are key victims of both systemic and structural discrimination and subjected to violence from dominant castes. Despite this reality, the report states that convictions in cases of violence against Dalit women are alarmingly low with one of the studies cited finding the rate to be under 1%.
A number of key recommendations for turning these alarming figures around are offered in the report. These recommendations include crucial amendments to the existing legislation, ensuring budget allocations for implementation of the legislation to protect Dalits, and the Government taking targeted and committed action to demand that the law enforcement and judiciary live up to their duties and enforce the law.