Eighty percent of sexual violence cases against Dalit women in Haryana were committed by upper caste men, reveals a study. The recent research report titled 'Justice denied: Sexual violence & Intersectional discrimination- Barriers to accessing justice for Dalit women & Girls in Haryana, India' points finger at the failure of justice system in India to protect the rights of Dalit women in the country. The report was prepared by Swabhiman Society, an organization led by Dalit women in Haryana.
The report examines 40 rape cases involving Dalit girls and women that happened in Haryana over the years between 2009-2020. It comes in the backdrop of the Hathras rape case, in which a 19 years old Dalit girl was raped and strangled to death by upper caste men in the village.
Since 2012, Swabhiman Society has been providing para-legal support and legal aid to survivors of sexual violence from marginalised communities, and working against oppression and injustice towards Dalit, Muslim and trans women and girls in Haryana.
Swabhiman Society has prepared the report by collaborating with 'Equality Now', which is an international human rights organisation that works to protect and promote the rights of all women and girls around the world. The collaborative report got published in November 25 in Hindi and English languages.
The report shows that "the caste and social status of the accused often play a key role in impacting the access to justice of the victims. In over 80% of the cases in this study, all the accused persons involved in the case were from a dominant caste, and in over 90% of cases, at least one of the accused persons was from a dominant caste."
The report highlights the stories of rape survivors from Haryana. The ignorant attitude of Police towards sexual attacks against Dalit women is evidently shown in the report. Corruption and lack of caste diversity existing in Police department proves to be a threat in conducting impartial investigation.
"Haryana reserves 15% of its posts for police personnel from Scheduled Caste communities. However, despite this reservation quota, only 6.15% of total posts in the police are filled by Dalit police officers. This means that Haryana has filled only 41% out of the reserved posts and is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to meeting this quota, second only to Uttar Pradesh," reveals the report.
Speaking to Madhyamam, Manisha Mashaal, Founder of Swabhiman Society said "We have conducted the study and came to a conclusion that caste discrimination is becoming a patriarchal tool to assault Dalit women and girls in Haryana. Inclusion of abduction, gang rape, murder is all a part of this report. There is a lack of effective legal system here to provide survivors and their family at right time. In such a condition they need proper and timely rehabilitation and social, legal, mental support from government,"
"SC ST Atrocities Prevention Act and POCSO Act are not implemented well in this state. Upper caste people in Haryana never consider us like a human being, they treat us like animals. The highest number of victims came from 13-17 age groups. What is more worse than asking a survivor to go for compromise in a rape case?" She asks.
The study also reveals that "in 57.5% of the cases, the survivor or her family was pressured or forced into accepting an extra-legal settlement or 'compromise' with the accused person, whereby they agreed not to pursue the criminal case. Out of the 40 cases in the study, 62.5% (25 cases) are gang rape cases, which is significantly higher than the 11-12% of gang rapes in rape cases involving all women and girls in Haryana,"
"The role of traditional Khap panchayats is in supporting the accused person and intimidating or coercing the survivor or her family into accepting a compromise. Khap panchayats are caste-based community groups consist of dominant caste members which often act informally as quasi-judicial bodies in settling disputes", the report states.