HYDERABAD: “I was raped by a married man when I was 14 years old. I tried to hang myself after the incident but my family stopped me,” said a 16-year-old Dalit girl, who is mentally and physically challenged.
She is not the only victim who spoke about her plight on Thursday. About 27 cases of exploitation and attacks on Dalit girls and women were heard at a public hearing conducted here by Dalit Stree Shakti. The 16-year-old also revealed she has not received the Rs 50,000 compensation promised by government officials.
“My attacker was arrested by policemen and released after a few weeks,” she said. Similarly, a 17-year-old girl spoke about how she was beaten up by a middle-aged man and nearly stabbed to death in West Godavari district in February last year. “A case was filed against him but I was not given any compensation and the man was released two months later,” she said. “Hundreds of such cases have been brought to our notice,” said Dalit Stree Shakti convener, G Jhansi.
After hearing the cases, the panel members said that rights of Dalits were under threat and that attackers, who often belonged to upper castes, were able to escape as they control law and order. One of the jury members, K Rama Swamy, a retired Supreme Court judge demanded the government to take stringent actions against culprits and provide reasonable compensation to victims. “Many cases of atrocities on Dalits have not been registered at police stations because policemen belonged to upper castes,” said KR Venugopal, former secretary to the Prime Minister. He appealed to victims to approach NGOs and government officials for justice. The jury also felt that strict action should be initiated against erring police officials and cases of attacks on minors brought before the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Former Union secretary, K Madhava Rao, National SC Commission senior investigator, B Ajay Kumar were also present.