Dalit children cases moving at a slow pace: study

Published - March 09, 2011 03:11 am IST - RAMANATHAPURAM:

Criminal proceedings against perpetuators of offences, particularly sexual harassment and rape, against Dalit children in Tamil Nadu progress at a slow pace, according to a study conducted by Evidence, a Madurai-based non-governmental organisation (NGO).

As per information received based on a Right to Information Act petition by the NGO, 28 Dalit girls, who were below 18 years of age, had been sexually harassed or raped in 11 districts, including Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Theni and Madurai, between September 1, 2008 and October 31, 2010.

Ramanathapuram district topped the list with six offences followed bySivaganga and Tirunelvveli (four each), and Madurai and Villupuram (3 each).

It was startling to learn that out of the 28 Dalit girls, 23 were allegedly raped. While 11 children were aged between 13 and 16, seven were below 12 years of age. Caste Hindus had been accused in 23 cases, and Dalit men were involved in the other five cases.

A. Kathir, Executive Director of Evidence, told The Hindu that out of the 28 cases, just one person had been convicted. Other cases were either pending in court or being investigated by the police. On an average, 20 to 25 First Information Reports were being filed in a year on sexual harassment and rape cases against Dalit women in the State. In many cases, proper investigation had not been done by the police. Most of the cases were at the stage of preliminary investigation.

In 2010, the Evidence studied 115 incidents of atrocities against Dalit women in the State. Of them, FIR had not been filed in more than 70 percent of the cases. Gender and caste discrimination, socio-economic vulnerability, exploitation, lack of awareness and others were among the reasons for the sexual assault, sexual abuse or rape against Dalit women, including children.

Creation of a separate police wing and special courts for disposing of cases against women and children, particularly Dalits, were among some of the best options for speedy justice and to prevent crimes against women.

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