The Rape of the Dalit


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 01:10 AM EDT, 3 May 2010

NEW DELHI, India - "Dalits are not allowed to drink from the same wells, attend the same temples, wear shoes in the presence of an upper caste, or drink from the same cups in tea stalls," said Smita Narula, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, the worldwide activist organization based in New York. Smita is author of Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's "Untouchables."

The heinous treatment of India's Untouchables is well documented and though the recent "human sacrifices" in the West Indian Bengal State are not related to caste system, it does highlight the issue  of poverty and illiteracy in Indian.  Police suspect that illiteracy and superstition led to the April 2010 decapitation sacrifice to the goddess Kali, when some of the poorest citizens conducted the sacrificial ritual in the hope of improving their position in society.

India's poor, especially the Dalit, are relegated to the lowest jobs, and live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated, paraded naked, beaten, and raped with impunity by upper-caste Hindus seeking to keep them in their place. Merely walking through an upper-caste neighborhood is a life-threatening offense.  According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), for the period of 2007-2008, the city of Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh was the second most unsafe city for  women in India after Delhi. Gender violence is on the rise, and according to the latest statistics released by the NCRB, and the state of Andhra Pradesh had the worst record for crimes against women during this same period.

For this same time period which is the last year for which figures are available, 24,738 cases of crimes against women in India occurred.  This included 1,070 cases of rape, 1,564 cases of kidnapping and abduction, 613 cases of dowry death, and 11,335 cases of domestic violence in Andhra Pradesh. Basically, every hour two Dalits are assaulted; every day three Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are murdered, and two Dalit homes are torched.

Thousands of preteen Dalit girls are forced into prostitution under cover of a religious practice known as Devadasis, which means a female servant of god." The girls are dedicated or "married" to a deity or a temple. Once dedicated, they are unable to marry, forced to have sex with upper-caste community members, and eventually sold to an urban brothel.

In August 2002, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD) approved a resolution condemning caste or descent-based discrimination.  For more information about this appalling human right's abuse watch the video below.