Injustice Hasn’t Stopped for Hathras Victim. Her Assault is Denied, Her Rapists Find Support

Social Commentary

Injustice Hasn’t Stopped for Hathras Victim. Her Assault is Denied, Her Rapists Find Support

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Two weeks ago, a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras was tortured and gang- raped, in a case so shocking and gruesome, she’s being called “another Nirbhaya”, referencing the horrific gang rape of December 2012 in Delhi.

On Tuesday, the woman had succumbed to her injuries sustained during the barbaric assault, which included multiple fractures and injuries to her tongue and back. The shocking headline was accompanied by several calls for justice on social media, especially for the women of Uttar Pradesh, who have had to deal with a drastic decline in law and order in the state.

However, to make matters worse, several significant voices, including police and hospital authorities, claimed that the woman was not raped.

After political pressure, an FIR was filed for gang rape 10 days later, but once again the conversation has shifted away from the grisly case to discussing whether the young woman’s caste should have been brought into the debate.

The fact that the four men arrested for the heinous crime were from upper-caste backgrounds, however, led many to argue that this debate was completely unwarranted. Many have also pointed out that this was one of the reasons that the case did not garner the same outrage or coverage as the Delhi incident that took place in December 2012.

Some, such as activist Saket Gokhale have argued that the crime was caste-based, and that those denying this fact on social media were enabling fascism.

Meanwhile, journalists and Dalit activists shared an article quoting a group known as the “Savarna Parishad” as coming out in support of the rapists, to cement the point for why the caste of the victim is important in this case.

Professor Ashok Swain pointed out on Twitter that “upper caste” Hindus often use rape as a weapon of oppression in the country, and shared a shocking statistic that says at least four Dalit women are raped every day in India.

Advocate Karuna Nundy said, “Denial that the #Hathras horror had anything to do with caste enables further atrocities.”

The truth is that Hathras victim was a Dalit. And forgetting that would be a crime.