Dalit sisters’ rape-murder : The Tribune India

Dalit sisters’ rape-murder

Girls remain vulnerable to heinous crimes

Dalit sisters’ rape-murder

THE horrific rape and murder of two Dalit sisters aged 15 and 17 years, who were found hanging from a tree in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh, underscores the continued vulnerability of women, especially of lower castes, to heinous crimes. - File photo

THE horrific rape and murder of two Dalit sisters aged 15 and 17 years, who were found hanging from a tree in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh, underscores the continued vulnerability of women, especially of lower castes, to heinous crimes. The deeply entrenched patriarchal and misogynist social norms relegating women to a subordinate status continue to rule the roost despite all laws securing their defence and equality. The Lakhimpur Kheri case comes two years after the appalling Hathras case in which a 20-year-old Dalit woman was assaulted and gang-raped and forcibly cremated by the police when she died two weeks later. One would think that the outrage triggered by this horrendous crime and the authorities’ assurances of ‘exemplary’ punishment to the culprits would have instilled fear into anyone else daring to cross the line.

But, clearly, the ground reality is far from it. The Lakhimpur Kheri case is the manifestation of similar audacity. This time, the perpetrators are not upper-caste Hindu men, but Muslim men. Perhaps, that explains their quick arrest, unlike last time when even getting the accused to trial was an ordeal. Thus, UP Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak’s promise of ‘such an action that future generations of the accused will shiver’ sounds like sheer bluster. Equally bleak is the justice delivery scenario. With four Dalit women raped every day, as per a report, there are thousands of invisible victim families — already placed unfairly down the socio-economic ladder — fighting for justice right now. As per data shared by Law Minister Kiren Rijiju recently, with 60,000 pending cases, UP tops the list of states where trials in cases of rape and those under the POCSO Act are yet to be concluded.

More pitiable is that the victims are so downtrodden and suppressed that they are easily bought over with a few lakh rupees of ‘compensation’ and, if the case becomes high profile, perhaps, an additional promise of a government job to the kin. How many more Dalit girls will be sacrificed before the community enjoys its right to live fearlessly and with dignity?

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