Dalit women suffer multiple discrimination at the intersection of caste and gender discrimination.

Dalit women suffer multiple discrimination at the intersection of caste and gender discrimination.

Multiple discrimination

Dalit women are often trapped in highly patriarchal societies. The severe discrimination they face from being both a Dalit and a woman, makes them a key target of violence and systematically denies them choices and freedoms in all spheres of life. This endemic intersection of gender-and-caste discrimination is the outcome of severely imbalanced social, economic and political power equations.

“The combination of caste and gender makes millions of Dalit women extremely vulnerable to discrimination and violence, including rape” Human Rights Watch

Violence  and rape

Dalit women suffer from severe limitations in access to justice and there is widespread impunity in cases where the perpetrator is a member of a dominant caste, above the Dalits in the caste system.Dalit women are therefore considered easy targets for sexual violence and other crimes, because the perpetrators almost always get away with it.

For example, in India, studies show that the conviction rate for rapes against Dalit women is under 2% compared to a conviction rate of 25% in rape cases against all women in India.

Denied justice, access to education, health and other services

Sanctioned impunity on behalf of the offenders is a key problem. Police often neglect or deny the Dalit women of their right to seek legal and judicial aid. In many cases, the judiciary fails to enforce the laws that protect Dalit women from discrimination.

Caste and gender discrimination in the delivery of education health care, water, sanitation and other basic services are also major obstacles for Dalit women severely impacting on their welfare and opportunities. This discrimination has been documented repeatedly by UN agencies and major international human rights and development NGOS.

“Non-implementation of legislation and policies and the lack of effective remedies and effectively functioning state institutions, the judiciary and police included, remain major obstacles to eliminating caste-based discrimination” European Parliament 2013 Resolution on Caste

Born into modern slavery and prostitution

Dalit women often work in modern slavery and are key targets for trafficking. They are often used as debt slaves in brick kilns, garment industries and agriculture. 98% of those forced into the dehumanising work of manual scavenging, removing human waste by hand, are also Dalit women. Dalit women may also be born into temple prostitution as ‘Devadasis’ (sex slaves) in India or be branded prostitutes in Nepal due to their caste status.

Fighting back

Dalit women are uniting against one of the world’s most gruesome and effective systems of oppression – the intersection of caste and gender discrimination.

Dalit women movements across the world are growing stronger and are connecting to each other and reaching out to decision-makers and people of the world.