Of late, various postulates have been formed to reason out the alarming increase in sexual violence on women. For example, the Khap Panchayats of Harayana have put the blame on ‘Chowmein’, claiming that ‘Chowmein’ causes hormonal imbalance among men leading to rape! Mamata Banerjee took a step forward to claim that the increase in free or casual interaction between men and women is responsible for the increase in gender violence. Of all available logics, women’s attire is identified unanimously as the Prima Facie culprit for instigating rape; in fact, this theory has also earned a lot of acceptance among the people. The conclusion derived from all the above arguments is that, men are, unfortunately, compelled to rape women and that does explain the hike in gender violence, in general, in our society.
Going by the records of the Crime Bureau, the year over year increase in the percentage of rapes in 2011 was 9.2 while a total of 24,206 cases came forward. The number of cases of sexual assault recorded in 2010 was more than that in 2009 by 3.6 percent. 434 of the total number of incidents reported in 2011 were from Bihar alone. The percentage increase in the number of cases in 2011 as compared to that in 2010 in Bihar was 17.84 which was 8.2 percent more than the all India rate. The figures in 2012 looked even worse. In a span of only 4 months (till Aug’2012), 645 cases had been recorded. Thus, going by the government statistics, there has been a stiff rise in cases of gender violence on women in general. The condition of the Dalit women is far more miserable. The number of reported cases of sexual assault on Dalit women has increased from 1349 in 2010 to 1557 in 2011, which is a hike of 15.4%, while the overall increase is 8.2%. Point to be noted, only such cases of sexual repression on Dalit women are considered as an extension of Caste Violence, where the oppressor belongs to a higher caste. Also, most cases of sexual violence on Dalit women go unreported, and as such, the actual figures are much higher than that reported.
Bihar has always been infamous for its feudal oppression and violence against women. In fact, Kalyan Mukherjee’s book on the rise of Naxal movement in Bhojpur, Bihar begins with the true story of a Dalit woman who was murdered when she refused to have sex with men of the upper caste. The fact remains that feudal lords in Bihar have always considered the Dalit women their private property. In the year 1973, women agricultural laborers of the Chhabri village refused to work in the fields of their landlord when his son sexually harassed one of their fellow female workers; her husband Lal Mohar took up arms against her oppressor. Several times, gut-churning incidents of genocide have taken place in Bihar and women have been indiscriminately gang raped in each of these holocausts. Not just that, the wombs of pregnant women were mercilessly torn open and the not-yet-born new life was destroyed with inhuman vigor. Moreover, the recent statistics show a stiff increase in incidents of sexual violence on women especially those of dalit communities.
Meera Sahni, a member of the Self Help Community in the Dhanaur village of Muzzafarpur district in Bihar was gang raped and killed by the local goons on the 19th of last May. Even when the body was brought to the PMCH, the local doctors did not lodge an FIR with the police. It was only when a retired officer intervened that the FIR was lodged. This was followed by the heinous rape and murder of Khushboo, a student of standard nine from the nearby village of Kopi. Kavita, another female student from the village of Prabodhichak. Roshan, another female student was raped and murdered on 7th of July. These went on and one of the female inmates of the Sitamadhi Jail was gang raped by police personnel. Their justification was that she was an alleged Maoist! Numerous horrendous examples of similar nature will testify how Dalit women have been oppressed for a long time by local goons and feudal lords in northern Bihar. A deeper peek into this condition would reveal that such atrocity on Dalit women is very much a technique to break their morale and weaken the resistance of the oppressed castes.
With the upsurge in violence against women, many people have blamed the law and order while some intellectuals have blamed free market, while others have held the role of patriarchy responsible for the current pathos and completed playing their roles with some token protests. But would that suffice!!!
Written By: sushmita goswami