WORLD / ASIA-PACIFIC
India’s low-caste women raped to keep them ‘in their place’: report
India’s low-caste women raped to keep them ‘in their place’
Published: Nov 25, 2020 07:13 PM
Lower-caste Dalit women in northern India are targeted for rape by upper caste men who usually escape justice as survivors bow to pressure to drop their cases, researchers found on Wednesday.

 

Only 10 percent of 40 rape cases involving Dalit women and girls in Haryana state ended with the conviction of all those charged, and these involved murder or victims under the age of 6, found two rights groups, Equality Now and the Swabhiman Society.

In almost 60 percent of cases, the survivor withdrew her case and accepted a "compromise" settlement outside the legal system, usually after unofficial village councils, or Khap Panchayats, coerced the women to abandon their quest for justice, it said.

"Survivors are threatened, face violence, their families are ostracized and there is extreme pressure to stay silent," Manisha Mashaal, founder of the Dalit rights group, Swabhiman Society, told Reuters. "To access justice, survivors have to put their lives at risk and endanger their families as well."

Haryana's director general of police Manoj Yadava said that he was unaware of the report.

The rights groups said men from dominant castes frequently use sexual violence as a weapon to reinforce caste and gender hierarchies, which place India's 200 million Dalits on the lowest rung of an ancient caste hierarchy.

The report highlights the challenges Dalits face in getting justice, despite tougher anti-rape laws introduced after a fatal gang rape in 2012.

"Dalit women's bodies are being used to assert caste supremacy and keep women 'in their place,'" Jacqui Hunt, Eurasia director of women's rights group Equality Now, said in a statement.


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