Way forward for Dalit Women

  • It matters, even if life imprisonment was given in this case, because the repeated setting aside of convictions under the PoA Act bolsters the allegations that the law is misused and amounts to the erasure of caste-based violence faced by women.
  • Further, as stated in the recent Parliamentary Standing Committee Report on Atrocities and Crimes against Women and Children, the “high acquittal rate motivates and boosts the confidence of dominant and powerful communities for continued perpetration”.
  • This judgment was a missed opportunity for the court to use intersectionality to uphold the conviction under the PoA Act or refer the matter to a larger bench if needed.
  • We need to stop hiding behind smokescreens of hyper-technicality of evidence and recognise caste-based violence against women when it stares us in the face.
  • Else, our caste discrimination laws will be rendered toothless.
  • If intersectionality theory mattered in this case, it should have influenced an interpretation of the PoA Act that reflects the lived experiences of women facing sexual violence.

Dalit women in India are situated at a very crucial juncture right now where they have to cross three thresholds simultaneously: class, class and patriarchy. These are the three hierarchical axes of social structure which are crucial to the understanding of gender relations and the oppression of Dalit women.