Dalit Women

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Singularly positioned at the bottom of India’s caste, class, and gender hierarchies, largely uneducated and consistently paid less than their male counterparts, Dalit women make up the majority of landless laborers and scavengers, as well as a significant percentage of the women forced into prostitution in rural areas or sold into urban brothels As such, they come into greater contact with landlords and enforcement agencies than their upper-caste counterparts. Their subordinate position is exploited by those in power who carry out their attacks with impunity.

Throughout this report, Human Rights Watch has documented the use of sexual abuse and other forms of violence against Dalit women as tools
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In all cases of attacks on women documented in this report, the accused state and private actors escaped punishment; in most cases, attacks were neither investigated nor prosecuted. Until recently, the plight of Dalit women has also been neglected by various political movements. As explained by Ruth Manorama, head of the newly constituted National Federation for Dalit Women:

Dalit women are at the bottom in our community. Within the women's movement, Dalit issues have not been taken seriously. Within the Dalit movement, women have been ignored. Caste, class, and gender need to be looked at together. Dalit women have contributed to this discourse... Women's labor is already undervalued; when she is a Dalit, it is nil... The atrocities are also much more vulgar.
Other activists echo the notion that women are hit the hardest in everyday life and during caste clashes. One activist told Human Rights Watch, “Sexual violence is linked to debt bondage in rural areas.” Another commented on the need to give priority to women’s
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In Shri Satish Mehra v. Delhi Administration and Another, a July 1996 case of the rape of a three-year-old girl by her father, the Supreme Court concluded that there lacked sufficient evidence to proceed to trial and pointed to the “seemingly incredulous nature of the accusations against a father that molested his infant child.” The court instead accused the mother of leveling false accusations to take revenge on her husband for an unhappy marriage.

The opinion added that the judge presiding over the case prior to the Supreme Court appeal ought not to have overlooked the peculiar circumstances of the case, including the fact that the accused’s wife found their marital life to be “extremely painful and unhappy from the very inception” and that she had accused him of being an alcoholic and prone to inflicting severe physical violence. Based on these circumstances, the Supreme Court concluded that the wife’s “attitude to the petitioner, even de hors the allegation involving the child, was vengeful.” As in the Bhanwari Devi case, despite the legal basis it claimed for the decision, the court only briefly touched on evidentiary matters and seemed instead to be motivated by its professed disbelief that such crimes could actually take
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