Sex hell of Dalit women exposed
A new report on the plight of lower caste women in rural India reveals a depressing portrait of rape, sexual abuse and harassment, and suggests that it is virtually impossible for victims even to file a complaint at a police station, let alone achieve justice.
An "extremely high" number of sexual assaults takes place on women from desperately poor Dalit or tribal communities - often by landlords, upper caste villagers and police officers, the study, published yesterday, found. But fewer than 5% of cases make it to court, activists estimate.
When the perpetrators are upper caste or come from influential local families, policemen invariably refuse to take a statement from victims - and have even been known to assault the women. They also routinely demand bribes, intimidate witnesses, cover up evidence and beat up the women's husbands.
The police also do little or nothing to prevent attacks on rape victims by gangs of upper-caste villagers seeking to prevent a case from being pursued. Sometimes the policemen even join in, the study suggests. Rape victims have also been murdered. Such crimes usually go unpunished