Dalit Women Fight; testify at UN against rising impunity under Modi Govt

All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, a collective of Dalit women, raised issues of rising impunity for violence against Dalit women under the Modi Govt at a separate side event at the UNHRC in Geneva

Picture courtesy: Twitter
Picture courtesy: Twitter

Bhasha Singh

For the first time issues of Dalit women were raised in a separate side event at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva UNHRC. A report entitled, `Voices against Caste Impunity: Narratives of Dalit women in India’ was released at UNHRC’s 38th session. The report says perpetrators of violence against Dalit women are enjoying impunity under the Narendra Modi government. The report puts forward in detail that ‘Dalit women are facing various kinds of extremely brutal violence and culture of collusion between different authorities to protect perpetrators of crimes against Dalit women.

This initiative was taken by a collective of Dalit women—All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM).

A short documentary ‘Dalit Women Fight’ was also featured in the side event at UNHRC, and became the face of the event publicity. Asha Kotwal of AIDMAM discussed in detail at the UNHRC meeting, that the situation of Dalit women is worsening in India. Kotwal told National Herald it is high time that the struggles Dalit women against caste-based violence are highlighted.

Asha Kotwal of AIDMAM at UNHRC: “Survivors are struggling hard to get justice. I want to make it clear that Dalit woman narrative is not victimhood, we are fighters, we are giving back and we want world to recognise this, that’s why we are here.”

The the side event also saw a panel discussion constituting UN member on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Committee Rita Isazk-Ndiaye, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Dubravka Aimonovi, Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover and Kotwal. During the discussion various speakers pointed out how violence against Dalit women is linked with economic deprivation, political disenfranchisement, barriers to justice and social indignities.

Dalit activist Deepthi Sukumar told NH that it is very important to raise these issues at an international level and especially at the UN. According to Deepthi, the Indian government is not serious about ensuring give safety and equality for Dalit women. Instead, it is collaborating with dominant caste assertion and aligning with perpetrators, she alleged.

Professor Vimal Thorat, convenor of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights said there is willful negligence by police to investigate cases of violence against Dalits, especially against Dalit women. Criminal justice system has become ineffective, said Thorat.

This story was updated at 4.25 pm to include a video

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Published: 23 Jun 2018, 12:30 PM