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India: Haryana Rape Cases Prompt March Against Violence

Marching with Candles in Hisar, Haryana, India Courtesy of Asha Kowtal, Dalitweb.org

In recent months, rape in the Indian state of Haryana seems to have become commonplace.

In October, the Deccan Chronicle, in an article titled ’The Haryana horrors‘ mentions Haryana as the “rape capital of India” for 19 reported rapes in one month. As a result of the rapes, women have been advised to avoid going to a pub, using mobile phones and wearing jeans.

According to Tehelka, rapes have nearly doubled in Haryana in the past seven years. From 386 cases in 2004, it has jumped to 733 in 2011.

In many cases, rapists have targeted Dalit women and girls. As the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), says “Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to such crimes.” In addition, according to IDSN 90 percent of crimes against Dalit women are not reported because of a fear of social consequences and personal safety.

Dalit activists sent a fact finding mission to Haryana and organized a march. Starting from November 1, 2012, the nine day long Karwan titled Dalit Mahila Garima Yatra (Dalit women pride march) traveled through towns and villages of Haryana meeting rape survivors, officials and community members. It “expressed solidarity with the rape survivors and outrage against the institutionalised sexual violence against Dalit women.” As Asha Kowtal writes on Savari (a facebook page for adivasi, bahujan and dalit women):

We are all energised by the process and of course we are once again reminded of our very small role/contribution in the struggles of our community. Often, we tend to make the mistake of burdening ourselves, but instead the resilience of our community and survivors of violence shows us the way ahead.

Marchers assemble outside a local village office, Haryana, India Courtesy of Asha Kowtal

A collection of responses from Dalit Activists can be seen on Dalit Web. A photo essay of the march is posted here.

Kalpana Sharma, a columnist, wrote in The Hindu, and is quoted in the New York Times saying, “If you are a poor woman who is raped, you cannot even imagine a life where there will be justice,” she adds “If you are a poor woman and a Dalit, then the chances of justice are even slimmer.”

From Twitter:

‏@dalitcamera (@Ravichandran): I uploaded a @YouTube video http://youtu.be/oWYkzwbr-9I?a  Asha Kowtal speaks in detail about Haryana dalit rape cases

@HollabackCHD: http://toi.in/Q3jAjb  After gang-rape, two accused commit suicide #rohtak#haryana

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