• Dalit woman stoned to death for not withdrawing sexual harassment complaint

    The incident occurred in Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, around noon when the girl was walking towards her college

    August 23, 2018

    Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Madhya Pradesh: 38-year-old Anil Mishra dragged a 23-year-old Dalit college student by her hair and smashed her head with a stone because she refused to withdraw a sexual harassment complaint against him.
     
    The incident occurred in Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, around noon when the girl was walking to the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Government Girls College in Seoni, around 350 km from Bhopal, police officials said.
     
    “Narrating what had happened, they said the accused, 38-year-old Anil Mishra, got down from his motorcycle and dragged the woman to the roadside by her hair. He allegedly pushed the victim to the ground and smashed her head with a big stone lying nearby, said Kotwali police station in-charge Arvind Jain. Some people rushed to help and overpowered Mishra. The woman, who was seriously injured and bleeding profusely, died while being taken to a hospital, Jain said. Mishra, who has been arrested, prima facie committed the crime as the victim refused to withdraw the sexual harassment case against him, said K K Verma, Seoni sub-divisional officer (police,)” PTI reported.
     
    According to district SP, Vivek Raj the accused was following the victim from her home and the exact cause behind the attack is being ascertained. "It looks he was a jilted lover. The victim had previously filed a case of harassment against the accused in the Lakhnavira police station. He was arrested in that case and was out on bail and the trial is pending in court," Raj said to India Today.
     
    Death penalty for rape in Madhya Pradesh
    The gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Mandsaur, MP, had shaken the nations conscious in June. Two men were found guilty by a special court and awarded the death penalty.
     
    “The Class 2 student was lured away by the two men when she was standing outside her school on June 26, waiting for her parents to pick her up. The men raped her, tortured her and then slit her throat before walking away. The men – Irfan and Asif – were caught within 24 hours of the rape after police examined the photographs and CCTV footage from the neighbourhood,” a report said.
     
    On Monday, another man was sentenced to death for raping and murdering a 14-year-old girl in Deval village, MP. “Rabbu alias Sarvesh Sen (22) and a minor accused entered the house of the victim in Deval village here and raped her on December 7 last year, Additional District Prosecution Officer (ADPO) M D Awasthi said. When the victim resisted, the accused poured kerosene and set her ablaze, Awasthi said. The girl died of burn injuries on December 14,” reported News18.
     
    On December 5, 2017, the Madhya Pradesh Assembly unanimously passed a bill to grant death penalty to perpetrators who are found guilty of raping girls of the age of 12-year-old or younger.
     
    Violence against Dalit women
    The country's 2011 census data states that just over 16 per cent of India's population are Dalits — making up roughly 200 million people. According to India's National Crime Records Bureau, more than four Dalit women are raped every day in India. The NRCB's 2014 statistics say crime against Dalits rose 19%. In many of the cases, these crimes are committed by upper caste perpetrators.
     
    International Dalit Solidarity Network India in its report stated that India is home to more than 80 million Dalit women – a calculation based on the statistics of the national census 2001.
     
    “A three-year study of 500 Dalit women’s experiences of violence across four Indian states shows that the majority of Dalit women report having faced one or more incidents of verbal abuse (62.4%), physical assault (54.8%), sexual harassment and assault (46.8%), domestic violence (43.0%) and rape (23.2%). Verbal abuse included regular derogatory use of caste names and caste epithets possibly amounting to ‘hate speech’, as well as sexually explicit insults, gendered epithets and threats (1). Most women do not report violence and the study shows that only 1% of the cases that are actually filed end in convictions,” their report said.
     
    The 2009 report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women contains an overwhelming number of accounts of Dalit women in India being raped and beaten by higher castes in the course of their daily lives, such as while working in the field, going to the market or doing domestic work. Sometimes disputes over land and resources can be a cause of violence, but just as often they are violated simply because they are Dalit women.
     
    Almost all cases show that the Dalit women are punished by police officers when trying to file a complaint or threatened to remain silent by means of physical assaults and rape and threats of further recourses(2). The report reveals that the women in most cases are denied their right to medical treatment for their injuries.
     
    As the United Nations Human Rights Council began its 38th session in Geneva from June 18, a coalition of Dalit women activists released a report on caste-based violence faced by women.
     
    “The report titled Voices Against Caste Impunity: Narratives of Dalit Women in India compiles accounts of witnesses, statistics and testimonies about the effects of caste-based violence in India, while recommending policy actions to end this. It is the first such presentation at the United Nations Human Rights Council by a Dalit women’s collective,” a report by Sabrang India said.
     
    “Even when Dalit women acquire political power, as when they are elected as sarpanches, this is often no protection against the social power that sanctions violence and discrimination against them. The report quotes Gayatri, a respondent from Madhya Pradesh, elaborating on the difficulties women sarpanches face, even if they understand the powers they have. “If she takes a stand against a murder or arson or attack on Dalit people, she is targeted and harassed,” Gayatri said in the report. In a village with a Dalit woman sarpanch, a Dalit woman was burned, but no action was taken. The nephew of another sarpanch was beaten when she objected to an atrocity. “She wants to do her job properly, but the dominant caste people have all the power and keep her in control,” the report quotes Gayatri as saying,” the report added.


    First published in Sabrang India.

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