A workshop on ‘Caste and Patriarchy: Narratives of Dalit women’ was organised on 11th March by the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP),UoH in collaboration with All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM) and National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR).
The workshop was organised in the background of prominent discourse around sexual violence remaining focussed on urban centric and security related issues rather than touching upon the social reality of caste discrimination. The aim of the workshop, according to the organisers is to ‘Complicate our understanding of gender based violence and appreciate it in relation to structural features of Indian reality.’
The inaugural session of the workshop was chaired by Prof. E. Haribabu, Vice –Chancellor, UoH. The inaugural session saw victims of atrocities coming forward to narrate their survival stories.
Speaking on the occasion Dr.M.M.Vinodini, writer, activist and academician, told that violence against Dalit women is looked in a different way from the violence against upper caste women. She said that Dalit women face more problems than upper caste women when it comes to violence and discrimination. She also noted that experiences of women are not coming to the dominant discourse.
Dr. A. Raghu Kumar, High Court advocate and activist requested the academicians to propagate the values of our constitution. He submitted that higher courts have become brahminical and many judges are not upholding the values enshrined in the constitution. “Trial courts are doing a better job than higher courts. They are more burdened and the social pressure is high on them than the higher courts”, he said. He said that constitution is a social contract all of us have entered in to and “…unless the judges learn to absorb the constitutional values…” any changes in the judicial appointment procedures will not produce any positive results.
Speaking on the occasion, Gaddam Jhansi, social activist, told that Dalits have become easy targets because they are unable to protest. She pointed out that atrocities against Dalit women are not getting any attention while violence against upper caste women gets most of the media attention. She said that universities are places of all kinds of inequalities and asked the students to open their mouth against inequalities in the campus.
“All women are not equal”-This is how acclaimed activist and member of Human rights forum Karthik Navyan put the status of women in India. He asked whether Dalit women are treated on par with upper caste women. “If a Dalit becomes an activist he/she is called a Dalit activist. New forms of discrimination is happening everywhere”, he said. “Society in India is not accepting Dalits. In this country Dalits will remain Dalits” He concluded.
The session was followed by an interactive session where students and faculty raised a number of important issues related to caste and gender based violence.
-By Joyel K Pious, MA-Communication