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Most gender atrocities against Dalit women: P. Sivakami

Saturday, 06 March 2010, 04:59 Hrs   |    6 Comments
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Most gender atrocities against Dalit women: P. Sivakami
New Delhi: India's leading feminist Dalit novelist-cum-politician P. Sivakami feels that most gender atrocities in the country are committed against Dalit women.

The former senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer gave up her job to become a full-time writer in 2008.

"In the society that is known as mainstream, the problems of Dalit women are considered separatist. They face the worst expressions of male chauvinistic society - atrocities like raping, profiling, physical assault and murder," Chennai-based Sivakami, who has just completed her new novel "The New People" in Tamil told IANS.

"But, I don't think the problems are separatist at all. They reflect the general bias at the grassroots against women as in tribal societies," she said.

Sivakami, who has often made headlines with her radical views, contested the Lok Sabha election on a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket from Kanyakumari in 2009, but lost. The same year in December, she floated her own political party, Samuga Samathuva Padai (Forum for Social Equality).

"When we talk of women's empowerment, we give priority to those who live below the poverty line -- malnourished and poor women. Even in that respect, Dalit women are the worst affected," she argued.

Stressing that incidence of domestic violence is highest among Dalit women, she said more men drink and assault women at home because they do not make enough money.

As far as their health statistics is concerned, nearly 100,000 women die at childbirth every year and a large number of them are Dalit women, the writer said.

Sivakami feels that the concept of education for Dalit women is yet to take root in the society.

"Consequently Dalit feminists, who speak for their women and spearhead causes like inter-caste marriages, are often branded separatists. They may be on the periphery -- but they ironically form the core issues because they speak for large numbers who have been affected by discrimination. The Dalit feminists need more encouragement from the country to emerge from their shells," she said.

Sivakami's first book "Pazhaiyana Kazhidakum" in 1989 took on patriarchy in Dalit society and courted controversy. It was translated into English in 2006 with the title "In the Grip of Change".

Her second book "Anandayi" will be published by Penguin-Books India this year. A poet, essayist and a prolific short story writer, she is also the founder of a Dalit literary mazagine "Pudhiya Kodangi".

"The magazine is named after a musical instrument that is used to drive away evil spirits," Sivakami said.

The writer does not treat herself as a person with a caste identity because "she is beyond it".

"Caste is the real hurdle India has to cross. I think it is a mainstream problem -- and not of the Dalits alone. We need more authentic spaces to discuss caste because whenever I go to villages to discuss caste with the Dalits, it becomes full of political overtones. The entire country is rooted in caste," she said.

For an upper caste Hindu, "a village sounds romantic, but for the Dalit, it sounds like the corporation (public) toilet. The Dalit communities are forced to prostrate before upper castes and they are ghettoized working as landless labourers and living in clusters on the fringe of the village," she said.

The writer believes that "assuming a bigger identity of Dalit encompasses gender discrimination, class discrimination, discrimination against transgenders, and all the issues that the marginalised society faces.
Source: IANS
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Reader's comments(6)
1: i m against of the view of removing of castism from education system. though it hurt it is what reality is! 150 years of British ruling never hurt HARIJAN that much than the very word HARIJAN did.In our own land this downtrodden part of society got neglected by upper cast people.Now a days their childrens got the education even though they are not capable of affording costly tuition classes for medical and eng.They are steel not head and shoulder to upper cast people who are steel capable enough to be in group against dalit community. Their God and everything else is against Dalit .i think what IAS officer had done is good and in support to empowerment of community.
Posted by:pratibha somkuwar - 16 Nov, 2010
2: not only low cast ppl facing the problem even the high cast people also facing problems in other way. though the high cast ppl score 1100/1200 it is hard to get medical seat but in sc caste they get medical even if they score around 950/1200 , it spoils lot of students specially in tamil nadu.. castism should totally be avoided from education. it hurts when 1 can get medical seat for the same marks where the other can not get. govt can help poor ppl financially but not on quota basis in education. because there is no in equality in brain.. apart from financial position god created every one with same structure and brain and so on. in depth there are lot of difficulties which i can not explain every thing here..my concern is remove the castism from education also help ppl based on poverty not based on cast, this will improve the whole society also sort out the cast issue.
Posted by:vincent francis chennai - 24 Mar, 2010
3: The writer is 100% right. I do not belong to lowercast,I have seen myself in U.P villages, they are treated like animals, can not enter the homes of upper cast, can not sit with them, can not talk to them, can not go near the temples of upper cast. Where are Shiv sena, Bajrang dal etc. as they assume tigers themselves. They should fight for these people if they are true Indians.
Posted by:Rizwan khan - 08 Mar, 2010
4: You are very great story writer. Please never blame other casts. Before your name it self you are using Dalit. And on the top of it you are blaming other casts.
Posted by:ram prasad poosaala - 07 Mar, 2010
5: this is really sad. i believe its not just about women, but generally dalits are targeted more than normal people. i sympathize with them.
Posted by:saijal - 06 Mar, 2010
RAM prasaad,
Do you read papers. Always dalits are killed in mass not as one or two. This happens almost in every state UP,BIHAR, AP,MP, Tamilnadu. They are asked to drink and eat human waste just for entering into the other street even for saving a life. Even police, if they do not have case they simply pull dalit and file case, because he knows that he neither has money nor persons to support. Please may be you are person in comfort zone with money and enough support. I am not dalit but a witnes for such incidents. But could not help because I am alone and if my people find I help them ,they kill me also.
Don't give opinion if you do not know the facts.
valavan Replied to: saijal - 08 Mar, 2010