VIJAYAWADA:It was a heart-rending scene at the Round Table on ‘Atrocities Against Dalit Women and Girls’, organised by the Dalit Sthree Sakthi (DSS) here on Saturday, when 30 victims or their kin (in the case of dead victims) narrated their ordeals. Some of them broke down in the process.
The atrocities mentioned at the round table, which was also attended by the officials of the Social Welfare Department, mostly concerned rape and murder or attempt to murder or abetment to suicide of the victims, several of whom were minors. Other cases pertained to harassment, humiliation in the name of their caste, kidnap and mass attacks. In all the cases, while the victims were either Dalits or tribals, including minor girls, and were denied any compensation, the perpetrators of the atrocities belonged to upper castes and invariably escaped punishment.
Narrating the case of Bogina Veeramma, a 13-year-old ST girl, on behalf of her illiterate mother B Manchali, DSS progamme Manager Daniel Prakash Gonthupuli said that the girl was brutally gang raped and later murdered Janakiram Puram hamlet in Bantumilli mandal of Krishna district.
According to Daniel, Veeramma belonged to an extremely poor family, which was homeless and living under a tree in the hamlet. A person named Subramanyam, belonging to an Upper Caste, befriended her and then sexually exploited her. Later, when she became pregnant and started pressurising him to take care of her, he got her gangraped by his brother and brother-in-law and then the trio beat her to death.
While the police had registered a complaint, there had been no significant progress in the case, Daniel said and added that the victim’s family had not been paid any compensation.
Narrating her ordeal, a 17-year-old Dalit girl from Bayyapu Thippa village of Narasapur rural mandal in East Godavari district said that she was befriended by a person named G Ramakrishna belonging to an upper caste and sexually exploited. When she became pregnant, he took her to Palakollu, where he tried in vain to get aborted. When she resisted and asked him to marry her instead, he abused her casting aspersions on her caste -- Dalit.
“He abandoned me at Palakollu. Then my father took me back to our village. Later, when he took up the issue with the elders of the Ramakrishna village, he was insulted and threatened. We then approached police for justice but nothing has been done these past three years,” she explained tearfully. Seeing his mother cry, her young illegitimate son, too started crying.
“Is being a Dalit a sin? Are we not human beings?. Why should we be treated in such an inhuman manner and our womenfolk and girls sexually exploited?,” DSS convener Jhansi Geddam questioned while expressing her dismay at the lack of security for Dalit women and girls, delay in justice and the apathy of the powers that be towards their safety and security. Calling for a change in this regard, she added that as a first step the victims or their kin in the 30 cases brought to the fore during the round table to be compensated, rehabilitated and the culprits brought to book at the earliest.