Rapes of Dalit women and impunity for dominant caste perpetrators must end now

IDSN Statement, October 7, 2020

IDSN strongly condemns the rapes and murders of Dalit girls and women in South Asia. The recent case of gang rape and murder of a 19-year old Dalit woman in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, has highlighted the ongoing brutality against Dalit women and the impunity with which it is administered. We stand in solidarity with Dalit women, their families and human rights defenders taking action on the ground to ensure that justice is served.

Caste-based rapes of Dalit girls and women take place daily in South Asia and in this past month several horrific cases of rape of Dalit women and girls by dominant caste men in India and Nepal have made headlines and sparked outrage. Human rights defenders are mobilising to push for action and implementation of legislation in their countries and our solidarity and support is crucial at this moment in time.

Media and fact-finding teams have highlighted that several Dalit girls as young as 12 have been raped and murdered in Nepal and India by dominant caste men. Their families are fighting for justice with the odds stacked against them. The cases reported are just the tip of the iceberg of caste rapes and atrocities inflicted on Dalits every week, year after year.

“The failure to ensure access to justice for Dalits in India and Nepal and take solid action to end caste-based discrimination is fuelling the most brutal and horrific crimes, with little or no consequence for the dominant caste perpetrators,” says IDSN Director Meena Varma. “This cycle of injustice and suffering can and must be stopped.”

In the case of the 19-year old Dalit woman in Hathras, the police were caught on video burning the woman’s dead body against the families wishes, thereby destroying evidence.

In India, the recently released Government National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2019 shows that ten Dalit women are raped every day across the country, and these officially recorded cases are only a small percent of the cases, as most cases are not registered due to intimidation, discrimination, threats and the failure of systems of justice.

The International Dalit Solidarity Network’s members on the ground are working tirelessly to push for justice and change. IDSN has signed on to joint letters on individual cases and is pushing for action from United Nations and European Union stakeholders to stand in solidarity with Dalit human rights defenders fighting for justice.

“We must seize this moment to move away from talking about laws on paper and demand accountability for the implementation of those laws on the ground.” said Ms. Varma.

“Caste discrimination has for far too long been allowed to reign in South Asia to the detriment of  societies. We must all stand in solidarity with Dalits fighting for rights, fighting for justice, and together push for ending caste discrimination now.”

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