Does India Care To Protect it’s Tribal Women?
|By Amit Singh|
Jan 28, New Delhi: There is no outrage. No candlelight protest. Not even slightest condemnation by the political leadership in the wake of National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) report on the rape of sixteen dalits women rape in Baster district of Chattishgarh . In its report on 7th January 2017, The National Human Rights Commission has found 16 women, prima facie victims of rape, sexual and physical assault by the State police personnel in Chhattisgarh. The Commission has observed that it is of the view that, prima-facie, human rights of the victims have been grossly violated by the security personnel of the Government of Chhattisgarh for which the State Government is vicariously liable. It has issued a notice to the Government of Chhattisgarh, to pay monetary compensation of Rs. 37 lakh to the victims.
It is interesting to note that NHRC has limited capacity to implement its order as it can only ‘recommend’ government and lacks legally binding power thus making NHRC a toothless paper tiger.In unofficial reports prepared by NGOs more testimonies of rape and cruel behaviour towards tribal women are emerging. Many women from Chinnagellur, Pedagellur, Gundam, Burgicheru and other villages have recorded their testimonies against security forces. One victims, however, told the district collector that the sexual violence did not stop at the rapes. Several women had been beaten on their thighs and buttocks, they alleged. Their lower clothing had been lifted, their blouses torn, and they had been threatened with further sexual violence – the security personnel said they would push chillies up their vaginas. At least two women who were breast feeding had their breasts pinched and squeezed for milk to prove they had breastfeeding infants. These events were occurred over the five days between October 19-24, as reported by one witness .
Why there is no public outrage over these barbaric acts?
Above case does not shook the nation as it was in Nirbhaya case. Reasons could be many. Victims are helpless tribal’s women from remote areas which is naxal affected; involvement of security forces and connivance of government (against such atrocities) to discourage security forces by condemning the incidence in public. Apart from sporadic reports in media, mainstream media skipped this incidence as this type of news does not sell and no middle class interest has involved. Similar to media, most of the Indian intellectuals maintained stoic silence over these issues as if nothing happened (except few NGOs and academics who jeopardizes their lives to document such cases in naxal areas). And for political leadership- these grave issues (frequent rape of tribal women) matter less. There is not condemnation. No demand to punish culprits. In addition, human rights activist working to highlight these issues were harassed and intimated by police . In fact, there is a long history of the police taking vindictive action against others who have been raising issues of human rights violations by the police and security forces in the area of Bastar.
Why such incidence happens and where it leads?
In the core of such rape incidence of tribal women is a prevalent culture of impunity-particularly prevalent among security forces. In most cases, if culprit is the member of the security forces are likely to go Scott free. Even in above case these was a FIR filled, however, “in many similar cases of atrocities and sexual assault by the security forces gone unrecorded and unpunished in the last decade in Bastar, as Bela Bhati, a human rights activist reported.
Tribal population do not have essay access to file FIR complaint and awareness of their human rights. Expansive justice system and hostile police system often discourage victims to pursue their cases against mighty state agents. Tribal areas are isolated and do not have access to modern communication; neither they are skilled to assert their rights, not they know how to fight for justice. Almost with no education and less economic resources, tribal victims are left to suffer in silence.
India has the second largest tribal concentration in the world. In India, Scheduled Tribes are spread across the country mainly in forest and hilly regions. These people, in India, are treated as low, despised and untouchable by the prevailing adherence to manmade social norms and caste system. Needless to say, such barbaric incidence of rape will isolate (if justice not served timely) tribal population which is already living on the margins of the Indian society and further, will boost naxalite movement- which is based on idea to seek justice through violence by destroying State’s machinery.
Human rights protection
The India Constitution, for example, provides for social, cultural, educational and service safeguards for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (SC/STs), apart from specific and general legislations enacted to safeguard and protect the interest of SC/STs. In addition, India government has International human rights legal obligation to protect the right and dignity of every men. In this context, government of India answerable to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) who examine the national situation of women’s rights. The CEDAW Committee is a UN body composed by independent experts in charge of reviewing a country’s implementation of the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, an international human rights treaty containing state’s responsibilities towards women’s human rights.
When a women’s modesty is dishonoured, numerous human rights violated such as, right to life, right to privacy, freedom from torture and cruel treatment to name a few. Discussed cases of tribal women’s rape in Baster exhibit that Indian government does not take their human rights responsibilities seriously and so does its security forces. Government failed again and again to protect, promote and fulfil human rights particularly towards marginalised groups of the Indian society. Unfortunately, along with mainstream media, most of the intellectuals do not feel outraged over such issues. I believe, until unless people feel outraged and offended on such serious human rights violations, government will pay just leap service. And such violations will continue unabated.
The Oslo Times