Written by Pranavi Khaitan, a grade 12 student
This piece is not recommended for younger kids – is for ages 14 and above
In Hathras, a 19-year-old Dalit woman was assaulted and allegedly raped by 4 upper caste men on September 24th. She was transferred to Aligarh Muslim Hospital where she made her statement to the police on September 22nd before passing away on September 29th.
In accordance with the woman’s statement, samples were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for analysis and the FSL report concluded that the woman had not been raped. On the basis of this report, the UP police claimed that rape hadn’t occurred and false information had been circulated in the media. Dr. Hamza Malik, President of the Resident Doctors Association a Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, however, called the FSL report “unreliable” as the samples had been received 11 days after the attack and therefore may not provide valid results. In addition to the dubious report, the UP police participated in a hurried cremation of the woman and did not let her family perform her last rights.
Many members of the opposition party including Rahul Gandhi and Sanjay Singh were allegedly barred from meeting the family of the victim with Sanjay Singh even being attacked with ink, it was reported. There have been widespread protests in Noida and Delhi where protesters are holding up banners stating, “Dalit Lives Matter” and “End rape culture”. The actions of the UP government have been condemned and they have been accused of being involved in a cover-up. The dissatisfaction at the handling of the situation has resulted in petitions being filed to the courts.
On hearing a petition which sought a probe by the CBI or SIT into the Hathras case, The Supreme Court described the issue as “extraordinary” and “shocking”. It sought suggestions from all parties on the scope of the proceedings in the Allahbad court and the way in which it could be expanded. The hearing for the matter will take place next week and the UP government has been asked to file a response on its witness protection plan and report on whether the victim’s family has access to a lawyer.
The BBC reports, “In a 2006 study of 500 Dalit women in four states across India on the forms of violence they had faced, 54% had been physically assaulted; 46% had been sexually harassed; 43% had faced domestic violence; 23% had been raped; and 62% had been verbally abused.” This case emphasises the vulnerability of Dalit women and the need for improved policies and initiatives aimed at their protection. As of now, the only hope is that justice may prevail.
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