The erasure of caste from the coverage of crimes against of Dalit women is an act of extreme gas lighting oppression and discrimination. She was woman and she was a Dalit . Both played a role in what happened to her.
In case of rape involving minority women, the concerns not only falls under women issues but also under the minority identity.
“Women are discourse fails to acknowledge the significance of the other, the power relations that each attempts to challenge are strengthened”.
In case the of Delhi Women, the sexual violence is both sex and caste based making them more vulnerable to violation and subsequently also societal and legal harassment due to her Caste.
This is why the sexual assault on Dalit women is covered under both the Indian Rape Laws and The ST, SC (Prevention of Atrocities)act.
In addition to the case identity, the danger also comes from the fact that most lower caste women work outdoors (as a result of their case). This is starkly different from the domestic nature of most upper-caste women’s work especially in rural India. While both sects of women are where they are due to patriarchal structures, the outdoor presence of Dalit women in lawless and misogynistic settings make them more vulnerable to violence while working.
The looming fear of violence is even higher due to intrinsic relation of caste, male ego and female sexuality in India. Violating the women of a community is a common tactic used to emasculate the men of the community- thus trapping the Dalit women sexuality in the grotesque, lopsided power relations between Upper caste and daily men.
This weight of this male-pride on female sexuality is age old. Often stemmed from the brahmanical obsession with end-game and purity to protect caste based structure. The fear of exogamy Perpetuates a culture of curbing and violating women – protect the Upper caste women to maintain endogamous purity and
violate Dalit women to establish power over the Dalit man and his powerlessness’.
Lastly, protesters also said what happened after outrage, which includes that the last rites of the victim performed without her family’s presence. They even chanted slogans against the Police for the manner in which way they have handled the case.
Several Dalit women in their writing speak of lack of space to talk about themselves. Conversations about the Dalit identities are led by Dalit men while conversations about their female identities are led by Upper caste women. The denial of a free space without gas lightening is urgently needed.
If individuals write off cases like Hathras as simply a female safety issue, they deny Dalit women of the very space they deserve to bring the light to a historic burden of being the hardest hit members of the structured Society.
By:- M. Hema Sri Surya