MADURAI: Claiming that there has been a rise in the number of women from oppressed communities being subjected to sexual harassment, A Kathir, executive director of Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO working for securing Dalit rights, said 58 per cent of the victims were Dalits.
Addressing a meet to discuss the ‘Social, Economic and Political Condition of Dalit Women in the State’, Kathir called for new policies to empower Dalit women.
“A total of 677 rape cases were registered by the police in 2011, where the victims were Dalits. The numbers touched 736 in 2012. This year, till November, as many as 923 cases have been booked,” said Kathir.
Referring to another disturbing trend, Kathir said, “Many rape cases against Dalit women go unregistered every year. Of the registered cases, over 2,000 were still pending in courts,” he said, adding that over 7.5 lakh cases in relation to various atrocities were pending.
“Dalits are discriminated not only by upper caste people, but also by the pillars of democracy. Though there are rules to prosecute those tormenting Dalits, implementation leaves a lot to be desired for. Even judiciary has failed to provide justice to the victims and they are forced to run from pillar to post to get themselves heard,” he said.
Recounting her harrowing tale, Muthulakshmi, a Dalit woman from Tirunelveli, said she had been waging a lone battle to save her land from falling into the hands of the caste Hindu oppressors. “We have approached the police several times seeking help, but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. They did not act against the caste Hindu group, which beat up my family members. It was only after Evidence took up our issue that we got some respite,” she said.
Mayakkal, another Dalit woman from Kodaikanal, said that caste Hindus had grabbed a half-acre tract of land from her. “Though I have been fighting the case legally, the police have not come to help us.”