Dalit women constitute the worst victims of sexual violence in India, along with rapes committed by security forces, a UN-authorised status report has said.
A large proportion of such crimes against Dalit women take place in Uttar Pradesh, a state which until recently had a Dalit woman as chief minister, according to figures cited in the “Status Report 2012” by the UN’s working group on human rights in India.
The review noted that two women are raped every hour, and every six hours, a married woman is found beaten to death, burnt or driven to suicide.
Although the brutal rape of a woman in Delhi sparked a national rage, rural women -- often poor, illiterate and from disadvantaged sections – bear the worst brunt. Only a fraction these cases are reported, the UN group said.
Abduction of Scheduled Caste women are rampant in Uttar Pradesh, which accounted for 58.8% of the cases in 2011, the year assessed.
Rape is often used as a tool for political and social subjugation of Dalit women, doomed to the lowest rungs of society due to caste-based prejudices. “Sexual violence against Dalit women is a systemic way of enforcing status quo of the Dalits…,” the review said.
Rapes by security forces is another key offender, it noted. Despite circumstantial evidence, often “probes are thwarted to facilitate their exoneration”.