By Amudha MV:
According to Dr. Ruth Manorama, a Dalit women’s rights activist, caste discrimination is one of the longest social injustices to exist as it has a recorded history of about 3000-4000 years. Today, instead of utilising the existing laws to protect Dalits’ rights, people in power hide behind them, refusing to bring any real change to the lives of Dalits.
While some of the laws themselves are problematic in nature, it becomes worse when politicians believe that just the simple existence of these laws is proof enough of the apparently established equality. Dalits are still struggling to make the nation understand the gravity of caste discrimination and the extent of its oppression. She also points out that even the Dalits in power hesitate to help as they are stuck in an oppressive system where they are constantly dominated by the upper-castes.
Worse are the conditions of Dalit women who, as Dr. Manorama points out, suffer from triple alienation due to their caste, class, and their gender. These women have had to fight not just their upper-class oppressors but men from their own community in order to gain visibility. For decades now, Dalit women have crossed boundaries and have fought without the support of Dalit men and other women organisations who fail to recognise their own privilege. They were even discouraged from participating in international platforms like the Durban conference. They worked hard to gain international attention to caste and gender-based violence that Dalit women are subjected to, despite the Indian government’s constant efforts to contain them, to erase their realities.
In this video, Dr. Ruth Manorama shares the details of the struggles and the accomplishments of Dalit women in the past four decades where they worked tirelessly to advocate for their rights in international forums.