For a full month Dalit women have marched in India to fight the vicious cycle of caste and gender discrimination that severely restricts the lives of Dalit women and subjects them to violence, rape and violations of their basic human rights in almost every sphere. They are marching to empower other Dalit women to stand up for themselves and join in the fight and they are demanding justice.
A report just released by UNICEF and UNESCO on out of school children in India highlights that Dalit girls have the highest primary school exclusion rate in India. The report also finds that half of the Pre-School age Dalit children are not attending school.
The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Rashida Manjoo called for the adoption of different norms and measures to fight violence against women around the world and a binding standard of accountability at the international level.
Almost 16 years after the savage killings of 58 Dalits in a Bihar village, the survivors’ fight for justice has suffered a severe blow. On 9 October, the Patna High Court acquitted 26 men who were sentenced for the crime three years ago.
The National Tribunal on Violence Against Dalit Women, organised by AIDMAM, heard over 45 testimonies of Dalit women who had been subjected to kidnapping, murder, physical assault, sexual violence and other crimes against them, and have yet to obtain justice.
The alleged rape and murder of a 20-year old Dalit woman in Haryana has prompted civil society groups to protest against the inaction of the authorities. Her body was found on 25 August in the city of Jind. The victim’s family and activists believe that she was gang-raped before being killed.
Hundreds of manual scavengers demonstrated in Delhi on 7 August against government apathy in abolishing the inhuman practice of manual scavenging. Unless legislation is introduced soon, they will return in their thousands and prevent parliament from functioning.
Nine Dalit women activists from South Asia attended the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week. Members of the group spoke at a side event on Dalit women on 4 June, and they appealed to UN member states to address their situation.
Women and girls facing caste-based discrimination need special protections (Press release from Human Rights Watch, IMADR, Minority Rights Group International and IDSN)
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has reiterated her commitment to ending caste discrimination. In a statement to a UN side event on Dalit women, she also called on UN member states to address the issue.