As the world’s largest democracy, India has a diversity of cultures and religions. It has the largest social hierarchy of caste, where practices like discrimination based on caste that is casteism exist even today. This was an old way of segregating castes based on the impurity of religion. People of lower caste were considered religiously impure some of them were Dalits, SC/ST, and other marginalized sections of our community. They are termed as untouchables, this practice imposed on them social disabilities because of the caste they were born-in. Even though, this practise of untouchability has been abolished by the constitution of India and other legal provisions to safeguard people against the discrimination imposed on them by society it continues to exist in large numbers both in rural as well as urban areas.
The mentality of the people towards Dalits, and for that matter, lower caste people is still the same. They are treated as second class citizens in their own country. The caste system is the major source of human violation against Dalits. They have been suppressed by the upper caste and are exploited with practices such as Devadasi that is forced on them in the name of religion, where they exploit young Dalit girls into prostitution. Devadasi system is also called a system of forced prostitution as the literal meaning suggests Devadasi means 'female servant of God. A Dalit girl even before she hits puberty is married to a deity or temple. Once she is married or dedicated she can't marry again and is sent off as a prostitute for an upper-class person, and is then forced into a brothel to work there as a prostitute. This is a practice that sexually exploits Dalit women of our community. It subjects these women to discrimination in all phases of their life, they are abused, and their human rights are completely disregarded. Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault and rape by police officers.
Dalits and lower caste people in our society are the most vulnerable for the following reasons-
The constitution of India embodies provisions for equality, human dignity, freedom, justice and requires for SC/ST Dalits and other marginalized groups to be protected against discrimination and raise their standards of living. On the other hand, the very protectors of law have been abusing Dalits in the name of their protection. Dalits are disproportionately targeted by police for a lot of reasons, as the police perceive them as criminals or potential criminals. They are also detained and tortured in police custody as most can't pay a bribe to the police officers. The reason for this abuse is that they are looked upon as people on whom violence can be subjected without any consequences. This happens mainly because they are rarely informed about their rights. Police officers from the upper caste community with caste biased mentality treat Dalits with utmost disrespect and subject them to abuse. Even when Dalits are arrested for minor charges, they are held in custody for longer. Dalits are treated inhumanely in custody, where they are denied basic rights like access to food and water. Injuries that are inflicted upon Dalits in custody often prove to be fatal, and police try to cover up these cases of custodial deaths by stating that these people died escaping custody or due to natural causes. Those who do manage it out alive endure mental and physical trauma.
Dalit women of this community are particularly subject to sexual violence by the upper caste men of the society. Dalit women have been arrested and raped in custody to punish their male relatives and Women, are sexually assaulted if they refuse to deny these assaults against them inflicted by the police officers. These widespread issues can be illustrated in the recent case of Hathras gang rape. In this case, members of the upper caste community raped 19-year-old Dalit women. There is a showcase of superiority over the lower caste, where she was also beaten up, and her spinal cord and her tongue were distorted. It eventually led to the death of the girl. Then, the police burnt the body of the victim without taking prior permission from the family. Police tried to cover up for the upper caste community yet again. Police brutality against the Dalits and suppression of Dalits by the upper caste is evident from this case.
There needs to be better implementation of the already existing laws by the police officers and the administration. The Dalit community has to be made more aware of their rights, and justice should be made more accessible to them to decrease the number of abuses the lower community faces daily.
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The Supreme Court of India has now helpfully clarified several questions of law relating to the parties' responsibilities, and hence liabilities for such charges.