- Activists highlight the grim fact that in 2018 alone, nearly 3,000 Dalit women were raped in Uttar Pradesh, of whom 871 were minors.
Representatives of Indian American human rights and advocacy organizations came together on Oct. 11 to demand justice for the 19-year-old Dalit girl who was gang-raped on Sept. 14, by four men belonging to the influential upper caste Thakurs in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh. The survivor of the gang rape died two weeks later in a hospital in Delhi, after suffering paralysis due to severe injuries to her spinal cord, leading to national and international outrage and protests.
The Oct. 11 silent protest held at Merrill Park in Iselin, New Jersey, was organized by the New Jersey chapter of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), and supported by groups like Hindus for Human Rights, India Civil Watch, Sadhana: Coalition of Progresive Hindus, Students Against Hindutva Ideology, Muslims for Progressive Values, Manavi, Dalit Solidarity Forum and Global Indian Progressive Alliance, among others.
“The Hindu nationalist government in India protects perpetrators of brutal sexual crime against Dalit women, because it doesn’t treat them as equal citizen,” said Minhaj M. Khan, president of the New Jersey chapter of the IAMC. “Dalit lives do not matter for the Hindu nationalists governments of Narendra Modi in India, and that of Adityanath, the extremist Hindu monk, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Not only did Adityanath, deny that the Dalit girl was raped, he refused a dignified death to her, and protected the culprits because they belong to the same caste as his,” he said.
Mohammed Jawad, the national general secretary of IAMC, highlighted the data from India’s National Crime Records Bureau that more than 500 Dalit women were raped in Uttar Pradesh under Adityanath regime in 2019. In 2018, nearly 3,000 Dalit women were raped in the state, of whom 871 were minors. On an average eight Dalit women are raped everyday in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau data.
Representatives from the Hindus for Human Rights read out a statement at the Oct. 11 protest. “As practicing Hindus, it behooves us to denounce this century-long oppression in the name of tradition,” the statement said. “Casteism demeans Hinduism that believes that God resides in every human. We cannot pray to deity for blessings, while disparaging other humans in the name of the same deity.”