Almost half of the women who were raped in Uttar Pradesh in 2010 were Dalits, reveals data given by the state to the Centre in a review meeting on April 8.
Of the 1,290 rapes that took place in UP last year, 588, about 45.58%, were of Dalits.
Significantly, the proportion of Dalits in the state population is about 22% and the crimes against Dalit women clearly outnumber their population proportions. In previous years, 2009, 2008 and 2007, Dalit victims of rape accounted for 18%, 20 % and 19 % of the total number of rapes, respectively.
While there was a decline in the total number of rapes in the state in 2010 compared with 2009, when 1,759 rapes were recorded, the number of Dalit women raped jumped to 53.91%.
"Dalits still remain most vulnerable. Relations of direct subordination are often central to sexual crimes," said Badri Narayan, an Allahabad-based expert on UP's Dalit politics.
At a time when the Mayawati government battles potential damage to its credibility by recurrent reports of rapes of Dalit girls, the government clearly has a lot to do before the coming polls.
Politically, the recent rapes of Dalit girls have become embarrassing for Mayawati, because her core claim to political legitimacy is empowerment of Dalits.
In terms of statistics, there is another issue staring Mayawati in the face.
The total number of cognizable crimes in UP has seen a big jump since 2007 (when the BSP came to power) though this could also be explained - as a UP official claimed - by more cases being registered under the present dispensation.
"More cases are being registered under this government, but crimes are also increasing due to rapid socio-economic change, widespread corruption and aspiration. But it is true that mafia crime has decreased under Mayawati," Narayan said.