DALITS MEDIA WATCH – ENGLISH NEW UPDATES 07.07.15

Dalits Media Watch

ENGLISH New Updates 07.07.15

Partially Blind Girl Raped – The New Indian express

http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/Partially-Blind-Girl-Raped/2015/07/07/article2906846.ece

He killed the writer in Perumal Murugan, and then a Dalit youth – India Today

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/perumal-murugan-maathoru-paagan-dalit-youth-gokulraj-murder/1/449540.html

Atrocities Against SC/ST Highest in Capital – The New Indian Express

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/thiruvananthapuram/Atrocities-Against-SCST-Highest-in-Capital/2015/07/07/article2905813.ece

Selfies with manual scavengers – The Hindu Business Line

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/selfies-with-manual-scavengers/article7392427.ece

Caste slur poster row: Valmiki Mahasabha meets the DM – The Times Of India

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/Caste-slur-poster-row-Valmiki-Mahasabha-meets-the-DM/articleshow/47964421.cms

He Has Four Degrees, But Works as a Garbage Collector in Mumbai – NDTV

http://www.ndtv.com/mumbai-news/he-has-four-degrees-but-works-as-a-garbage-collector-in-mumbai-778814

Ekalavya: A Progressive Reading – Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sunita-viswanath/ekalavya-a-progressive-reading_b_7713368.html?ir=India&adsSiteOverride=in

A Portrait of the Indian as a Young Dalit Girl: Part 2 – Sister, Mothers – Two Circle

http://twocircles.net/2015jul07/1436248887.html#.VZt1nRuqqko

 Please Watch:

India -The Untouchables(Dalits): Breaking the barriers/silence

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbDdLN-NobI

 The New Indian express

Partially Blind Girl Raped

http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/Partially-Blind-Girl-Raped/2015/07/07/article2906846.ece

By Express News Service

Published: 07th July 2015 06:04 AM

JAGATSINGHPUR: A partially blind minor girl was raped and assaulted by two persons at Harishpur village under Nuagaon police limits on Saturday. After the village heads failed to punish the accused, the girl’s father lodged an FIR at Nuagaon police station on Sunday night.

The girl, belonging to Dalit community, was returning from agriculture field on Saturday evening when Mithun Bhoi and Ganesh Bhoi of the same village abducted her and took her to an isolated place. They gagged the girl and then assaulted her as a result of which, she fell unconscious. The accused then raped her and fled.

As the girl did not return home for a long time, her parents started searching for her only to find her lying unconscious in the field. After regaining consciousness, the girl informed her parents about the incident.

When the parents took up the matter with the village heads, the latter desisted from registering a police case as it would bring bad name to the village. Later, they conducted a meeting where they imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on each accused. This, however, did not go down well with the families of the accused who threatened the girl’s father of dire consequences.

Then, the girl’s father filed a police case against the two accused, who are now absconding.

India Today

He killed the writer in Perumal Murugan, and then a Dalit youth

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/perumal-murugan-maathoru-paagan-dalit-youth-gokulraj-murder/1/449540.html

 An engineering graduate, Gokulraj was allegedly murdered by castiest elements led by Yuvaraj after the former was found to be in love with his class mate who belonged to the dominant Kongu Vellalar community of which Yuvaraj was a prominent activist. Ironically Gokulraj was abducted from the same Arthanareeshwarar temple which had formed the backdrop of Maathoru Paagan.

 Kavitha Muralidharan  Chennai, July 6, 2015 | UPDATED 18:35 IST

tamil-novelist_story_647_070615063517

In a shocking revelation, the man accused of the murder of Dalit youth Gokulraj whose beheaded body was found near Salem rail track last week was also responsible for the controversy over Perumal Murugan’s novel Maathoru Paagan – a controversy that ultimately led to Murugan’s announcement of his death as a writer.

An engineering graduate, Gokulraj was allegedly murdered by castiest elements led by Yuvaraj after the former was found to be in love with his class mate who belonged to the dominant Kongu Vellalar community of which Yuvaraj was a prominent activist. Ironically Gokulraj was abducted from the same Arthanareeshwarar temple which had formed the backdrop of Maathoru Paagan.

Informed sources in and around Thiruchengode say that Yuvaraj besides being a community leader has been a points-person for the parents of the girls who allegedly fell in love with ‘boys from lower caste.’ “Gokulraj’s murder cannot be seen as a case in isolation. For the last two years, Yuvaraj has spearheaded campaigns against love marriages and against Dalits in the area” says Madurai based Dalit writer Stalin Rajangam who was part of the fact-finding team of Intellectual Circle for Dalit Actions (ICSA) that probed into Gokulraj murder.

“The role of Yuvaraj, prime accused in this case, has been downplayed, enough evidence proves that he was involved in moral policing, and was also part of a campaign against inter-caste marriages to prevent girls from his community of Kongu Vellala Gounders marrying boys of other castes, particularly Dalits. This helped him gain access to address to his community students in various colleges within the Kongu region. By doing so, he built a network and solicited information about relationships if any between dalit boys and Kongu Vellala girls. As a person who reflected the caste majoritarian psyche in this region, Yuvaraj gained acceptance as a caste mafia and someone who could keep their caste pride intact,” the report of the fact finding team says.Sources say the family of Gokulraj’s girl friend too had approached Yuvaraj for help to ward him off but never expected him ‘to murder Gokulraj.’

Rajangam says the team could also establish that Yuvaraj was involved in the Perumal Murugan episode. Murugan’s novel Mathoru Paagan (One part woman in English – published by Penguin) ran into controversy four years after it was published when some castiest forces claimed that the novel showed their (Kongu Vellalar) women in poor light. The controversy ran for several weeks during which Murugan was forced to enter into an agreement in presence of the local DRO at Namakkal district collector office wherein he had agreed to remove the ‘objectionable portions’ of the novel and withdraw the novels in print from bookshelves. Following this, Murugan had announced his death as a writer. “He had threatened to kill Perumal Murugan. Yuvaraj also played a prominent role in the one-sided panchayat that was held at Nammkkal district collector office where Murugan was forced to withdraw his work,” says Kannan, publisher of Kalachuvadu that published Mathoru Paagan.

“In Perumal Murugan issue no step was taken by the administration against the casteist forces that whipped up violence publicly for many months. It is not mere coincidence that the same Arthanareeswarar temple that was site of action for both Hindutva and casteist forces back then is site of abduction of Gokulraj.  Yuvaraj had organised the mob that was present at the  Namakkal collectorate for the so called peace meeting on Jan 12th,2015 which was then used by the administration to cow down Perumal Murugan into signing a contract against his will. Had the government acted sternly then, Gokulraj may not have been murdered now . When they tasted blood killing a writer metaphorically it was only a matter of time before then would kill another victim for real. Saving the honour of Gounder women, especially from Dalit men, is the reason in both cases,” Kannan says.

The State might have to pay more heads and pens for its complacence, if it continued.  

The New Indian Express

Atrocities Against SC/ST Highest in Capital

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/thiruvananthapuram/Atrocities-Against-SCST-Highest-in-Capital/2015/07/07/article2905813.ece

By Express News Service

Published: 07th July 2015 03:49 AM

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: State capital Thiruvananthapuram tops the list for crimes committed against members of the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities. The capital has been maintaining the position for the past four years.

Crime Table

As many as 536 cases have been registered in the district, according to statistics presented in the Assembly on Monday. Of the 536 cases, 404 have been registered in rural Thiruvananthapuram alone, according a written reply given by Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala. 132 were registered in the city limits.

As many as 278 cases were registered on charges of harassment of women, 57 in the city and 221 in the rural limits. In 126 cases, chargesheets were issued. The total number of accused in these cases, the Home Minister said, was 459 of which 202 have been arrested. No one has been punished so far and 12 cases are still under investigation. Across the state, during the four-year period, 3,634 cases have been registered for atrocities against SC/ST communities, 1,809 cases for harassment of women. Of the total 2,642 accused, 1,572 have been arrested and 14 punished. Thrissur district is second in the list with 473 cases of which the rural areas recorded 332 cases and city limits, 141.

Kollam, which is third, registered 441 cases of which 283 cases were registered in the rural areas and 158 in the city limits. Kozhikode registered 279 cases, with rural Kozhikode alone recording 190 cases.

The Hindu Business Line

Selfies with manual scavengers

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/selfies-with-manual-scavengers/article7392427.ece

ADITI NIGAM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared his mission to “electronically unify” India with technology. “It combines 3Ss — speed, simplicity and service…. Technology is a brilliant way to serve people…Technology empowers the less empowered” he said. One only hopes the PM also applies technology where it is needed the most — to abolish the demeaning practice of human beings picking up excreta with their hands. If Modi is serious about empowering the “less empowered”, it shouldn’t be difficult for him to make a beginning with two BJP-ruled States. Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have the highest number of manual scavengers, with 63, 713 and 23,093, respectively, according to the recently released Socio Economic and Caste Census.

Some 18.06 lakh people in India belonging to the Scheduled Castes, the lowest rung of the caste hierarchy, are manual scavengers. This despite the existence of a law prohibiting this as well as the practice being forbidden by the Constitution.

BL07_FTV1_THINK1_2464146f

Not just that. While plans for bullet trains and modern infrastructure for Indian Railways are desirable, the Prime Minister would do much greater service by insisting on deploying technology to abolish the practice of manual scavengers cleaning the tracks. Incidentally, the practice continues despite IR being directed by the Supreme Court to end it.

Today, India has more people who own mobile phones than land and toilets. But the biggest blot is that over 18 lakh persons belonging to the lower castes still clean human excreta. We have sent a mission to Mars but unless technological solutions are found for basic human progress at the lowest level of social strata, India cannot be recognised as a truly modern state.

The Times Of India

Caste slur poster row: Valmiki Mahasabha meets the DM

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/Caste-slur-poster-row-Valmiki-Mahasabha-meets-the-DM/articleshow/47964421.cms

Pankul Sharma,TNN | Jul 6, 2015, 11.15 PM IST

MEERUT: A delegation of sanitary workers on Monday protested at the collectorate, seeking strict action against those who pasted posters with casteist slurs on Tilak Road. 

The Bhartiya Valmiki Mahasabha asked district magistrate Pankaj Yadav to pull up the Resident Welfare Association (RWA) of Tilak Road for allegedly pasting the posters. 

Mukul Kumar Gahlot, general secretary of the organization, said, “The language of the posters which are pasted by the Tilak road RWA was objectionable. They abused our community. We asked the administration to take immediate strict action against the RWA. We have also written to the state government and SC/ST commission in this regard.” 

In one of the posters, vegetable sellers are called by their caste name and it is mentioned that only two sellers would be allowed at a time into the colony. Besides, no ragman would be allowed to enter the colony. 

Ankur Bansal, president of the RWA said, “We had never pasted such posters at our colony and someone is trying to provoke the people belongs to a particular caste. All the members of our association are well educated and we respect all the people irrespective of their caste and community.” 

Bansal has already filed a complaint at Lalkurti police station on Sunday in this regard and the police is investigating into the matter. 

NDTV

He Has Four Degrees, But Works as a Garbage Collector in Mumbai

http://www.ndtv.com/mumbai-news/he-has-four-degrees-but-works-as-a-garbage-collector-in-mumbai-778814

Mumbai | Written by Nikita Niraj Arora | Updated: July 07, 2015 09:00 IST

MUMBAI:  36-year-old Sunil Yadav works with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Mumbai as a garbage collector. That’s despite him having earned four degrees in the last nine years.

“We were born as scavengers. Right from our birth we have been slaves. We never really had any rights. We are trying to get out of it, and there is only one way to do that. Baba Saheb Ambedkar said ‘if you study, you will grow’, but people still don’t accept us,” said Mr Yadav.

bmc-manual-scavenger-story-650_650x400_41436206144

Between 2005 and 2014, Mr Yadav completed his B Com, BA in journalism, MA in Globalisation and Labour, Masters in Social Work and is currently pursuing M Phil at the reputed Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

“I got down into a drain on my first day of work. For days after that, the smell didn’t leave my mind. I walked through water with dead animals. That’s when I decided I had to study and get out of this vicious cycle,” Mr Yadav recalled.

Four generations of Mr Yadav’s family have worked as manual scavengers. Sunil Yadav took up his father’s place at the BMC after he was declared medically unfit.

“Not every Dalit is a scavenger, but every scavenger is a Dalit. There is 100 per cent reservation in that category”, Mr Yadav said sarcastically.

Despite the hardship, Mr Yadav didn’t give up. He funded his own education while simultaneously working at the municipal body.

“I worked in the night from 9 pm to 2 am and studied during the day and even though BMC rules state I am entitled to a study leave, it took me 18 months to get it approved”, he added.

The Central Government has recently published a socio-economic census which puts the number of manual scavengers in Rural India at over 1.8 lakh.

Mr Yadav’s wife Sanjana also completed her graduation after getting married.

“He has always been very supportive. He told me to complete my graduation and explained that society will respect me only if I was educated”, Sanjana told NDTV.

While the Parliament passed a bill to prohibit manual scavenging in 2013, experts feel, the country still has a long way to go.

“A new act has come in 2013, two years have gone, and we have not prosecuted even a single person across the country. So, when the law is not working, the bureaucrats are not working, when political will is not there, when the society is not sensitive, where is the question that we can achieve our target?”, said Bezwada Wilson, National Convenor of the Safai Karamchari Andolan.

Huffington Post

Ekalavya: A Progressive Reading

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sunita-viswanath/ekalavya-a-progressive-reading_b_7713368.html?ir=India&adsSiteOverride=in

Sunita Viswanath 

Progressive Hindu; women’s rights and social justice activist and advocate

Posted: 06/07/2015 23:59 IST Updated: 07/07/2015 00:29 IST

I am a part of a progressive Hindu organization, Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus. In Hinduism, God is not above or external to us. In fact the same divine spirit is in every single one of us, regardless of race, religion, gender or caste.

2015-07-02-1435844409-750206-Sadhana_Logo11-thumb

I was born into a Brahmin family, but grew up largely outside India and away from the influence of caste identities and hierarchies. I understand the privilege that comes with being born a caste Hindu. It is painful to bear witness to the tortured history of Dalits (self-chosen political name for the groups formerly known as outcastes and untouchables), and the fact that in modern India, there is caste-based violence every single day – murders, rapes, lynchings, denial of access to water. Violence can be acute when young people fall in love across caste lines. Higher caste Hindus will often not share meals with or marry lower caste Hindus or Dalits.

The Mahabharata is a Sanskrit epic of ancient India and one of the most important texts in Hinduism. One of its stories, the story of Ekalavya, was recently presented to me by a Dalit activist as an illustration of how Hinduism is irrevocably entrenched in casteism. The story, in synopsis, is as follows:

Dronacharya was a Brahmin archery tutor, and Arjuna was his favorite pupil. Ekalavya, a boy from the tribal community called Nishadas, wanted to study under Dronacharya. Dronacharya refused, citing Ekalavya’s caste. Ekalavya made a clay image of Dronacharya and studied intensively before the statue. He became a highly skilled archer. When Dronacharya learned that Ekalavya had studied before a statue of himself, he asked Ekalavya for his gurudakshina (the gift that a guru receives from his pupil). Ekalavya was prepared to give anything, and Dronacharya asked for Ekalavya’s right thumb. Ekalavya, without any hesitation, chopped off his thumb for Drona. In spite of this, Ekalavya went on to become a great archer, and Dronacharya eventually repented his treatment of Ekalavya.

Given the abominable treatment of Dalits today and throughout history, it makes perfect sense that Dalits read the text in this way. The Dalit History Month websitequotes Dalit writer Shashikant Hingonekar, “If you had kept your thumb, history would have happened somewhat differently. But you gave your thumb and history also became theirs. Ekalavya, since that day they have not even given you a glance. Forgive me, Ekalavya, I won’t be fooled now by their sweet words. My thumb will never be broken.”

While respecting Dalit readings of Hindu texts, and wholeheartedly supporting their struggle for justice, I wish to share my own progressive, non-casteist reading of the Ekalavya story:

Dronacharya said he rejected Ekalavya because of his lower caste, but a stronger motivation might have been Drona’s fear that Ekalavya would become a better archer than his favorite student Arjuna. 

The hierarchy of caste, or more accurately varna-jati, was a fact of life in ancient India, and it seems natural that the Mahabharata and other Hindu texts would reflect it. I contend that if the purpose of this story was to assert the superiority of Brahmins and Kshatriyas over lower castes, then Ekalavya would not have emerged as morally and physically superior in the story. 

Ekalavya cuts off his thumb at Dronacharya’s request because Dronacharya is the Guru that Ekalavya has accepted in his heart. It is an act of submission based not on the caste system but on the relationship between teacher and student (guru-shishya parampara), a supremely important tradition in Hinduism.

In that moment, Ekalavya shows such humility and integrity that he is elevated above Dronacharya. Even without a thumb, Ekalavya goes on to become a better archer than Arjuna. And the clincher is that Dronacharya repents. I would argue that Ekalavya’s triumph and Dronacharya’s repentance mean that if anything, caste discrimination is wrong.

There is one more observation to be made in this story. Ekalavya learns all the skills of archery before a statue he fashions of Drona. So technically, Dronacharya hasn’t taught Ekalavya anything — the knowledge was revealed to him through his own devotion, his own sadhana (praxis or faith in action). This is perhaps the strongest statement against reading the story as solely about Dalit subjugation.

The Bhagavad Gita teaches that anyone, no matter caste or creed, if they have complete devotion, can attain true knowledge:

Whoever, with faith, has offered love to whatever form that person wishes to worship–
Upon every such person,I bestow this immovable faith.
 (Bhagavad Gita 7:21, Translation Graham Schweig)

The story of Ekalavya is a popular one among Hindus, and the take-away is rarely an affirmation of the caste system. Ekalavya is a far more celebrated character than Dronacharya, who is often criticized for his moral failures. When people read the story, they grapple with moral and ethical questions: Was Dronacharya right in asking for this extreme gurudakshina? Is Ekalavya’s act of submission to be admired? By thinking through these questions for ourselves, we come to discover our own principles, and we learn how to live our lives based on our own convictions.

Hindu scriptures, like all religious texts, can be interpreted to support whatever worldview one chooses. The fact that they are constantly retold shows that Hindus have a time-honored tradition of scriptural debate and reinterpretation. All religions are constantly evolving, and it is up to us to reimagine texts and traditions so they are relevant to our time.

We in Sadhana search for interpretations of scriptures that uphold the highest expression of equality and justice for the universe and for all people. We reject any Hindu teachings which teach prejudice and the superiority of some over others, in favor of teachings which are based on love, oneness and justice.

Two Circle

A Portrait of the Indian as a Young Dalit Girl: Part 2 – Sister, Mothers

http://twocircles.net/2015jul07/1436248887.html#.VZt1nRuqqko

Submitted by TwoCircles.net on 7 July 2015 – 11:31am

(Editor’s note: This was first published on Yahoo.com as a single piece. We are reproducing the long form report in parts for TwoCircles.net readers.)

You are 13, kidnapped from your street along with three friends, drugged, raped, and dumped 150km away. No one could possibly blame you, but they do. The authorities investigate you instead of the accused men. What appeal does a young Dalit girl from Bhagana, Haryana bring to a nation that thinks it has now become sensitive to sexual assault? Is it enough to live on the pavement at Jantar Mantar for months on end, hoping someone will notice your call for justice? How long will your fight for a new life last?

By Priyanka Dubey

e7180e70-389a-11e4-b3ba-0bb2f25e0f1f_6-The-deserted-kitchen-in-Janvi-s-home-in-B

That afternoon when I arrive, 20-year-old Reetika is sitting on the mud verandah of her two-room house. Reetika and Janvi grew up with their two brothers in this small house situated in the Dhanuk (a Dalit sub-caste) basti. I’d walked through the Dalit tola of Bhagana to reach Reetika’s house. Most of the houses stand locked and empty. Only 40 Dhanuk families still live in Bhagana.

That afternoon, Reetika is wearing a mustard yellow salwar kameez and a magenta dupatta. Her round face is stoic and she smiles. The small neem saplings her mother had planted have withered. Inside, the second room is still locked and the room she’s been living in these last two days, since she came from her in-laws home, is dusty. The open chulha on which the family used to cook, on which Reetika used to cook before she got married, is now covered by thick dust, leftover ash, a few utensils and a broken bicycle.

“Our home and neighborhood is now destroyed,” she tells me. “Nothing is left. First, the Jats captured the common land of our village and boycotted all those Dalits who dared to resist. Then, all the Chamars and Khantis left the village while the Dhanuks stayed back. We could not gather the courage to leave our houses back then. Now, after this attack (on Janvi and the others girls), staying back was not an option. We knew that our lives were in danger in this village. My parents thought that we’d get justice, or at least be able to raise our voices against this crime only if we protested at Hisar or Jantar Mantar. So in mid-April, they left the village along with 90 other Dhanuk families from our neighborhood. Our tola has been deserted since then.”

Reetika’s younger sister, 13-year-old Janvi, is the youngest of all the four survivors of the Bhagana gang-rape. She was kidnapped barely 500 m away from her home along with Sushma, 17, Leela, 17 and Meena, 18.

Reetika points her finger towards the now-deserted verandah and says, “We grew up here. Since she was the youngest child of the family, she was always a bit pampered, but never more than my brothers. We would play together here, talk, laugh, cook and sometimes even fight. She had a few dolls and sometimes we ran around playing juggo in this veranda. When we grew up, we would cook, talk and occasionally watch TV serials together.”

Later she says, “When I think about her now, all I feel is that she was too small, too fragile to go through such a brutal attack. My mother told me that she was in a bad condition when she returned home after that night. She was partially conscious, her body was still bleeding and she was in severe pain. I know men routinely attack and abuse girls here, but still, I feel that she is too small to go through all this.”

Her despair is so deep it’s as if Reetika doesn’t believe that Janvi’s fate was wholly avoidable, only that it could have been delayed till she was older. The only reason that Reetika is back here in this village is to represent her family at a wedding in the extended clan. Life, she knows, goes on elsewhere. Even if her own family is frozen in time in front of an 18th century astronomy-loving prince’s toy.

Earlier that month, at Jantar Mantar, I’d spoken to the young mothers of the survivors. There’s no accounting for the greater and lesser violence that these women have faced over their lifetimes.

Of Bhagana village’s 3,800 voters, 2,000 are Jats. Most Dalits in this village are landless and earn their bread by working on Jat-owned farms. They either work under the bataidari system, under which they grow crops on the Jat land and are allowed to keep only a small fixed percentage of the produce, or they follow the siri system, under which a Dalit enters work on a Jat farm for a fixed period of time, and also does domestic tasks for the Jat household during that period.

“In a way, the Dalit becomes a bonded laborer under the Jat during this period. He has to do whatever work the Jat says. And Jats make them do all kinds of menial jobs besides making them work on fields. Of course, the Jat owner thinks that he has every right over the wives and daughters of his Dalit bonded laborers. There have been many cases in which Jats enter the homes of Dalits on any given night and ask the man to step out, giving him some task such as watering the fields. Then they sleep with their women. The Dalit man who goes to water the fields knows about what is going on with his wife, but he can’t do anything about this,” says Bagoriya.

One evening, Sushma’s mother Reshma tells me about what happened to her – the reason she thinks the girls were raped. Her husband Vishnu used to be a bonded laborer for the village sarpanch Rakesh Panghal. In January this year, she said, her husband was working on the sarpanch’s fields. It was a cold night and Vishnu fell asleep while watering the fields. A lot of water from the sarpanch’s pump was wasted, and Reshma says the Sarpanch beat up her husband twice and molested her as well. “When my husband went to the government hospital in Hisar with blood flowing from his head, the doctors bandaged his wounds but refused to give him a written prescription or anything that we could have used for a police report.” He went to the Hisar Superintendent of Police to file a complaint, but the SP advised her husband to arrive at a compromise with the sarpanch.

Reshma says the enraged sarpanch threatened her husband and told him to be ready to pay. Reshma thinks the rape of her daughter and the other four girls was their payment.

It’s been raining at the protest camp at Jantar Mantar, but the rainfall has now stopped and the sky is a clear orange. The humidity soars again and the camp is muddy. At 4.30 pm, Janvi wants chai but her mother Bhagmati says that she will have to wait for an hour. Bhagmati and I talk about the day Janvi was born. While shifting bags of rations from the wet corners of the tent under which they’re camped to the shrinking dry patch in the centre, she says, “Hamaare gaon mein mahaul itna ganda hai ki ladki ke paida hone par sirf dar lagta hai. Ek to Dhanuk, upar se ladki; jaan kaise bacha paungi iski, yahi dar satata rehta tha. (The environment of our village is so disgusting that we only feel scared whenever a girl is born (in our community). First a Dhanuk, above that a girl! All my life I have been troubled by one question, how am I going to save the lives of my daughters?”

Bhagmati and I are painfully conscious that Janvi is listening as her mother says of her youngest child, “Everyone in my family (including me) was very sad when Janvi was born. We were terrorized by the thought that we had to look after one more daughter. I gave birth to three boys and two girls.” Bhagmati’s panic about daughters is not related to the reasons that lead south Delhi to have the lowest sex ratio. “When we are scared about own lives, how are we are going to protect our daughters and ensure that they stay safe and alive? In a way, the birth of a daughter shows us how helpless and vulnerable we are.”

*Names of all rape survivors and their relatives have been changed.

News monitored by Girish Pant & AJEET
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