No Country For Dalit Women: Hathras Acquittal Is A Reminder

Hathras court acquittal of rape accused shows how the system continues to oppress Dalit women in India to this date.

Judgement in Hathras gang rape case betrays Dalit women’s dignity.

The caste system lies in the protection of interests. In fact, any enforced hierarchy does. It is often hard to observe in its myriad ways, but it does show up.

The upper-class man may choose his wife, his land, and his slaves and proceed to make statutes that ensure the same for his son.

The caste system attacks Dalit women more severely

There is nuanced intersectionality in the treatment of women within this system. No longer humans but accessories to the decorated male. Dalit women have historically known the violence embedded in this so-called divine order.

From availing healthcare, access to drinking water, sanitation, and independent finances to the due process of law. Being violated, torn apart and denied basic human rights. Those who labour not only to birth and raise children, but to take care of the household as well. Those who perform punishing work, assigned to them before they were even born, continue to pay.

India regresses with Hathras acquittal

India claims to have taken strides forward, but the state is as civilized as in its treatment of its women. The country has failed colossally, especially its most oppressed groups. Especially after the recent acquittal of the 3 upper-class men in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras gang rape case.

The 2020 gang rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman shook the nation for its brutality. Found in critical condition, she succumbed to her complications after 15 more days. She named the 4 men as her rapists in her dying declaration.

Court drops gang rape charges

This year on March 2, ironically heralding Women’s History Month, came the inglorious news. Out of the four accused, Sandeep (20), Ramu (26), Luv Kush (23) and Ravi (35), only Sandeep Sisodia was given the life sentence. The gang rape charges were dropped.

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Sandeep was convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and offences under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Meanwhile, the charges were dropped for the rest. None of the accused has been found guilty of gang rape.

The victim’s claims still stand

Advocate Seema Kushwaha, fighting for the 19-year-old Dalit woman’s family, says they will try to appeal the judgment before the high court. Even without looking into legal particulars, the 19-year-old’s dying declaration before the Magistrate was that she was gang raped by the 4 men.

Does her word have no merit? Does she not deserve justice?

The woman’s family, who had found her body at the time following the incident, broke down before the court upon the ruling. Members of the victim’s family claimed mishandling of evidence since the very beginning, coercing them to speed up her final rites.

Protests are not enough

Despite being such a sensitive case, it was heavily politicized, and thrown open for the media and audience to pick apart. Activists and opposition spokespersons bashed the court judgement to no avail. The only assertion to come out of this event has been that this country has belonged to upper-class men and continues to do so.

Another aspect outside Aside from the long-drawn-out, unjust trial, it must be remarked on how desensitized rape has become in our country. So much so that any “virality” of a case is almost always determined by how gruesome case details are.

Final thoughts

Ask yourself if you would’ve cared so much if she got to live. Is justice only availed if you’ve suffered for it enough? Even in death, Dalit women continue to be wronged and nothing has changed. Years after the Nirbhaya rape case, we see no remorse from the accused, the judicial system or the people.

Maybe the victim’s personal heaven is a place where they take justice into their own hands because this country clearly cannot.

Image source: Shutterstock, edited on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Ria Tirkey

I am Ria from New Delhi. I'm a student of political science and law and I have a lot to say apparently. read more...

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