At the 38th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, a Dalit women's collective held a side event during the conference to fight against caste-based violence.
The collective also released a report titled ‘Voices against Caste Impunity: Narratives of Dalit women in India’. The report talks about caste-based violence, and the struggles survivors go through to get justice, and hopes to take the conversation forward on what policy measures can be taken to address the issue.
“Dalit women are facing various kinds of extremely brutal violence and a culture of collusion between different authorities to protect perpetrators of crimes against Dalit women,” the report said, and also stated the SC/ST commissions and the National Commission for Women may not be able to fully grasp and address gendered caste issues.
As part of the event, Dalit women from India presented accounts of aggravated caste-based violence. It also had a panel to recommend steps that can be taken to fight for justice, which comprised of UN member of the committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination committee Rita Isazk-Ndiaye, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Dubravka Šimonović and Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover.
Asha Kowtal, General Secretary of the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, who led the presentation, said, “Our narrative is not of victimhood; we want to make it known to the world that our fight is against those who spread venom and bias which obstruct our right to life. #Dalitwomenfight is one such initiative that attempts to foreground the voices of Dalit women from our villages to the United Nations.”
Professor Vimal Thorat, the Convenor of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights said, “In our experience of monitoring violence against Dalit women, the ineffectiveness of criminal justice system compounded by wilful negligence by the police to investigate the cases within the prescribed legal framework is evident.”
This is also backed up data from the National Crime Records Bureau, which revealed that among Dalits, crimes faced by Dalit women were the highest.
Vrinda Grover, one of the panelists, said, “The failure of courts to provide justice to India’s most discriminated and vulnerable women compels us probe the underlying systemic and institutionalised challenges,” and called for stronger action.