India is an ancient country with a rich cultural heritage. She has been known for her traditions and customs. She got its Independence on August 15, 1947...
According to Hindu social system, there are four main castes in India-the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas and the Shudras. There is also a fifth group which describes those people who collect garbage, toilets and everything else which is considered dirty. The Dalits fall into the fifth category. The people of this category are forcibly kept far away from the mainstream of the society on account of impure nature of their work. These so called Dalits are strictly prohibited to speak to the people of the high castes. The generations of these untouchables are banished to the village outskirts because they clean out the garbage. They are beaten up mercilessly if they do not follow the norms of their society.
The women of Dalit community have to face the triple burden of caste, class and gender. Dalit women and girls are especially vulnerable. They have to face not only the discrimination of the caste, but also of class and gender. They have to live in a vicious circle of marginalization and exploitation. Dalit girls and women have been forced to become prostitutes to quench the sexual thirst of the influential people of some dominant castes and the village priests. Sexual abuse and various other forms of violence are used against the women and the girls belonging to Dalit communities. Besides this, the role of Indian police is not in favor of these Dalit women and girls. It is estimated that less than one per cent crime cases against Dalit women are ever filed.
According to National Crime Statistics, more than 1000 rape cases against Dalit women are registered annually. Several girls have to live in the temples as Devadasis since the time immemorial. These girls are not allowed to marry. They are also entitled to appease the sexual desires of the priests, the high ranked people and the influential Zamindars. They have no escape because a Devadasi’s daughter is bound to be a Devadasi. The children born to these Devadasis have no fathers and they have to live a life of orphans as they have no place in the society. The women and girls from the Dalit communities are used as prostitutes in their young age, but they have to beg in their old age.
A statistical record indicates that every hour two Dalits are assaulted; everyday three Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are murdered and two Dalit houses are burnt. The women of Dalit communities are not protected by the labour laws. They are being given the minimum wages they are casual labourers. Undoubtedly, the life of Dalit woman is a challenging one. They have to walk a long distances to fetch water. They become the victims of sexual violence and verbal abuse when they go to work in the fields. It is a matter of great shame that most of the crimes against these women remained unreported because the police refuse to file the first investigation report against the culprits as these culprits belong to the influential and high ranked sections of the society. it is also a fact that the family members of these women and girls do not think it better to lodge an first investigation report because they are afraid of being murdered.
The women and girls from the Dalit sections of the society are unloved and broken people. India’s male dominated society has no affection and compassion for these women and girls. They are considered as lower species of mankind. These women and girls are forced to do those jobs which no one of the higher castes will accept to do. According to an estimate, more than one million o them are manual workers and around 1.3 million Dalits in India, mostly women earn their livelihood through manual scavenging. More than 1 million scavengers, mostly women have to carry away the human feces on their heads. Besides this, they have to dispose of the dead animals. It is a matter of great regret that most other jobs are closed to them.
In fact, women and girls from the Dalit sections of the society are being discriminated within their own communities. They are discriminated because they are poor; they are women and they are Dalits. Since the ancient times, these women and girls have been considered as sex symbols. They are seen as objects for quenching the sexual thirst. The male dominated society of India considers them as commodities that have no dignity and respect. We cannot deny the fact that history always favors the males and females have always been marginalized by the Indian social structure. A Dalit woman has to confine herself to the household chores only. In fact, being a Dalit woman is a curse.
It is the need of the hour to start a crucial campaign against caste system and social equality must be established. The campaign against the caste system needs a global support so that economic and social equality and social justice may be established in the social structure of the country. A ray of hope is seen as the All India Democratic Women’s Association has stated its operations in several parts of the country. Besides this, the association has sponsored regional conventions in favor of Dalit women.