An episode of Hathras – Has a lesson been learnt?

Consummation- the very word defines as a completion. In the episodes of marriage, consummation comprehends it as a completion through sex. India, which is a magnificent seat, of orthodox principles, has a lineage of cluster family. The elders of the family found it bashful even to speak or utter the word, intercourse or sex, in public. They would even live a monotonous life once they cross a mean age. In recent years, this collocation is lost.
The daily that we skim through has news of nothing but sexual assault, molestation, gang rape and so on. The thing with such a secluded or a private affair has been drifted. To be more precarious, it is thrust. What happened in Hathras? Where are we heading?


Where are we heading?


A decade ago it was Jyoti Singh or the case of Delhi gang rape, and now it is the case of Hathras. The incident throws light on the misappropriate handling of the innocent damsels in their hamlets. ‘ Black lives matter’ gained momentum a few months back in the US. Anecdotes happening around the small hamlet ‘Hathras’ will shoot ‘Dalit lives matter’ into the limelight. It keeps me locked in disdain when rape statistics are looked into.

Three thousand four hundred eighty-six cases of rape against women ( Dalit minors) in 2019.
Rajasthan has the highest number of rapes against Dalit women (554) then followed by Uttar Pradesh(537) and then by Madhya Pradesh(510)
Rate of rape against Dalit women is the highest in Kerala – 4.6 (per lakh population), followed by Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan( both by 4.5)
Only 32% conviction rate of offences under POA act (prevention of atrocities act), The scheduled castes and tribes.


Riya Singh, part of the core leadership of collective Dalit women, fight, briefs on NCRB figures about assaults on Scheduled caste Women and minors amounting to 3366 in 2019 is only the tip of an iceberg. The stumbling blocks sprawling before them in each step to the process of justice are not paltry-sized but little humongous.


First, one being the hurdle in filing the FIR. In 99% cases, the police hands one an acknowledgement of a non-cognisable offence instead of an FIR under the scheduled caste and scheduled Tribe (POA) act. Extra pressure is needed in each case to file an FIR and the next being, getting the FIR done under the accurate sections of the POA act and not just the IPC.


Secondly, the village network compliant to the existing caste core in the village is a big problem. Khap panchayats play the role of local supreme courts. When someone tries to file an FIR, the Upper Caste people reach the police station, changing the testimony of the woman before being written down. In other words, the woman is settled for a compromise. Victims are often on the receiving end of the slanders by the police officers too.


Thirdly, they don’t involve in supplicating the whole act, or they won’t instance the right sections. This evolves that if the trial reaches court and if not under the POA act, then the victims won’t get the full benefit. It means that these cases are meant to go to exclusive special courts, and the survivor’s family have entitled the compensation and travel allowances. The investigation is also meant to b completed within 60 days.


Lastly, there is a delay in the compensations to be received after the FIR registered. They too receive it after hundred of follow-ups and door knocks. There have been many cases were court-appointed lawyers don’t tell survivors their court dates, and even sometimes they have no idea who her lawyer even is.


The Hathras case may share outrage and protests with Nirbhaya, but constitutes a sheer difference in the administrative response as well as its possible impact. What has been learnt?
Strict adherence to the procedures laid under the POA act is essential. Instead of such outrages, the Upper caste folks should sensitise their communities and build a lively public discourse on affirmative policies like reservation that assures our fair representation within systems and right away withdraw their biases towards the POA act.

Written By – Ramya Sree. D

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