| (From left) Lawyer Abha Singhal Joshi, chairperson of SC/ST Commission Vidyanand Vikal and social activist Sudha Verghese at the hearing in Patna on Wednesday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Several victims shared experiences in which lack of toilets led to rape incidents in the state.
The shocking tales came up at a public hearing on violence against Dalit women organised by Oxfam India in association with Water Aid and Department For International Development at AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies on Wednesday.
A case of a victim from Sadokhar village of Chenari block was brought to notice at the event where women have to travel long distances to get access to toilets. In November 2011, a Dalit woman was raped when she went to a distant place to use the toilet.
The victim was accompanied by a few other women when a man riding a bike started teasing her. She was reportedly beaten up and run over by the accused when she tried to resist. The woman was declared dead after she was taken to the hospital. The victim’s family failed to get justice.
Several such cases were discussed at the event. The jury members were Abha Singhal Joshi, a lawyer of Delhi High Court, Vidyanand Vikal, chairperson of SC/ST Commission, social worker Sudha Verghese and others.
Abha Singhal Joshi said: “It is a pity that the society still believes in caste system. These kinds of cases reflect the condition of the Dalit women and girls. Though there are laws against such crimes, the society needs to change its mindset. It is very important to spread awareness and provide the basic facilities to these women.”
Sharad Kumari, the general secretary of Bihar Mahila Samaj, who conducted the event, said: “Though there are laws, it is not possible to address these issues unless FIRs are lodged and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, are properly implemented. It is also very important to improve the behaviour of the people in the society.”