Women’s panel talks tough on caste-based atrocities

Police urged to play a constructive role in addressing issues

A few weeks ago, a woman approached the Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women with a complaint that she was thrown out of her house by her husband and his family because she was a Dalit.

“They ran away and got married; however, post-marriage, his family, which belongs to a higher caste, began to harass her. Her husband too joined in. One day, the woman was thrown onto the streets,” said Kannagi Packianathan, IAS, Chairperson of the Commission.

In the last six months, since the Commission was revived after its former Chairperson Visalakshi Nedunchezhian passed away a year ago, hundreds of women across the State have petitioned it.

Out of the 813 petitions the Commission has received so far, 22 relate to caste-based violence.

Women, especially those positioned at the bottom of the caste and class hierarchies, have complained of being subjected to caste-based atrocities such as physical assault, sexual harassment and domestic violence. They have also complained of discrimination by their spouses’ family and sometimes by their own.

Protection from families

Members of the commission say that a few women have also sought protection from their families as they continue to harass them for marrying men from other castes. “They live in fear even after marriage. These complaints will be dealt with seriously,” Ms. Packianathan said.

Sujata Mody, president of the Penn Thozhilalargal Sangam, said that the police could play a crucial role in resolving the issues.

“But as we all have seen in many cases, police officers who belong to the dominant community side with the powerful. Instead of providing the woman protection, they insist on sending the woman back to live with the same family,” she said.

Police unwillingness

The Commission also mentioned that 47 of the petitions that had been submitted related to the police’s unwillingness to resolve matters.

However, Ms. Mody said that it was also the duty of every stakeholder to address the issue of caste-based violence.

“Young people have the freedom to make their own choices. They must be supported. Perpetrators of caste-based violence must be given quick and effective punishment,” she said.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 5:29:59 AM |

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