Despite measures like the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, Dalit women still face violence, said Delhi social welfare minister Rajendra Pal Gautam. And when it comes grievance redressal, they can’t expect much from the police.

“Police most of the time becomes tool of the political parties, specifically the party which is in power. So if something happens with us, then the police doesn’t even file the case and if something even slightly happens with members of political parties, then they put the most grim charges on us. This is current reality as it was even decades ago,” Gautam pointed out.

Speaking at the National convention for Violence against Dalit Women held in New Delhi on Monday (26 Feb), Gautam said, “History tells us that Dalit are Indian-origin in this country. But through ages, politicians have considered the whole community and the Dalit women their own property. They have exploited the community as they wished and did not give the community any rights to protect themselves from harassment.”

He brought out some crucial points that explained just how bad the situation of atrocities and violence against Dalit women is.

social welfare minister
Delhi Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam

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“When crimes happen with women, the media wants to find their caste. If it is a general category woman, then many protests, candle-light marches happen, the government etches out a fund for her. They will give compensation to the family of the victim. But when the same crime or worse than that happens with a Dalit woman, then nobody even wants to hear the case and it is very shameful.”

The state is always in fear that the SC/ST community doesn’t ask for its share in the progress of the country. This is why they create terror among the community every three to four months which crushes it down. And when we try to recover from it, something else happens. So our community, instead of focusing on educating our children and growing, has to struggle against the atrocities

The minister said how we all grow up believing that the law is above all and everyone is equal by law but is that the reality? No, he said. He expressed sorrow that people who have the responsibility of handling legal matters also inspect a person’s caste before enacting laws.

“Now we are not ready to be exploited by the state authority. The state is always in fear that the SC/ST community doesn’t ask for its share in the progress of the country. This is why they create terror among the community every three to four months which crushes it down. And when we try to recover from it, something else happens. So our community, instead of focusing on educating our children and growing, has to struggle against the atrocities,” said the minster who is also a lawyer.

social welfare minister
Dalit women national convention

Four organisations—All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, Dalit Stree Sakhti, National Dalit Movement for Justice and Sisters For Change—came together to organize the event to address the challenges Dalit women face. The organisations have also compiled a report—A Call For Justice, A Time For Change–that showcases case studies and statistics on how the community has suffered, especially women.

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