Dalit women’s collective calls for end of caste-based violence

New Delhi: A Dalit women’s collective, leading their side event for the first time at a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Thursday, voiced their concern over increasing violence and atrocities against women and called for ‘structural upheaval’ to combat the situation, a statement said.

A report “Voices against Caste Impunity: Narratives of Dalit women in India”, charting caste-based violence and the struggles that survivors are made to face for justice, was also released at the UNHRC 38th session.

“Dalit women are facing various kinds of extremely brutal violence and a culture of collusion between different authorities to protect perpetrators of crimes against Dalit women,” it said.

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It also mentioned that the SC/ST commissions and the National Commission for Women (NCW) may not be able to fully grasp and address gendered caste issues.

A panel constituting UN member on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination committee Rita Isazk-Ndiaye, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Dubravka Aimonovi, Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover and the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch General Secretary Asha Kotwal were present at the event.

According to the speakers, violence against Dalit women is linked with economic deprivation, political disenfranchisement, barriers to justice and social indignities.

“Dalit woman narrative is not victimhood, we want to make it known to the world that our fight is against those who spread venom and bias which obstruct our right to life,” said Kotwal.

The panellists also pitched for strong support by a global solidarity movement and seek stronger actions from within the UN and campaigns from international human rights organisations.

“Many Dalit victims and their families in India are not informed of their rights and atrocities committed against them are crimes. Institutionalised impunity for crimes committed against Dalit women in India must be addressed. The police’s reluctance and deliberate omissions to register complaints and arrest perpetrators must be questioned,” Grover said.