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Empowering Dalit Women & Girl Children
for more than a decade !!!
It is the dalit woman who bear the burden of the institutionalized oppressive system. Sexual violence against Dalit women is practiced as a systemic way of enforcing status quo of the Dalits. Dalit women and girls are subject to violence and rape at a disproportionately high level due to multiple discrimination. They are denied all rights and dalit girl children are denied basic education. Various reports of national and international agencies documented that the dropout rates of Dalit girls is alarmingly high compared to the national average. It is a well known fact that discrimination and segregation in schools is forcing Dalit girls out of education and pushing them into child labour and modern slavery. Similarly, Caste and gender discrimination in the delivery of health care, water, sanitation and other basic services are also a major obstacles for Dalit women severely impacting on their welfare and opportunities. In the thematic report on education, the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism observed: “the forms of structural discrimination and abuse that Dalit children face in schools are often so stigmatizing that they are forced to drop out of school.” Ms. Rashida Manjoo, United nations special Rapporteur on Violence against Women,2013, noted: “The reality of Dalit women and girls is one of exclusion and marginalization.
“I measure the progress of a community with the degree of progress women have achieved.”
Dr. B R Ambedkar
Dalit Sthree Sakthi was founded in 2006 to address the rights of dalit women and girl children. During the past 15 years DSS has grown into a collective power of dalit women. About 1,85,000 women from 1200 villages are organized in to women collectives for voicing their human rights and dignity. DSS is the first of its kind in the state of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Under the auspices of UN Women, International Campaign against Violence on Women is conducted regularly every year. UN Call for an active campaign world over on this theme for 16 days, starting from 25th November and culminating on 10th December Human Rights Day. All activist organizations world over responds to this call of UN and conduct campaign for 16 days and sensitize the society against all forms of violence on women. Dalit Sthree Sakthi responds to this UN call every year and conducts campaign on the theme of violence against women.
Every organization, governments and other institutions annually celebrate certain important days like, International Women’s Day, Ambedkar Jayanthi etc. DSS devised a novel way of campaigning on a theme as part of celebrating these important days to make them more relevant to the dalit women.
Annual Conferences is an opportune moment for all the activists to meet across the districts and both the Telugu states to share their experiences. Every year, DSS organizes Annual Conferences, which would be like a mass carnival of dalit women.
Conducting RadhaYatra as a campaign method is not uncommon in India. Almost all leaders of political parties went around the country/state in this type of RadhaYatra in luxurious buses, vans to reach to the people and campaign their programmes, manifestos etc. But none from rights organizations, conducted this type of RadhaYatra to campaign on rights themes. DSS had taken up this novel and effective programme and conducted RadhaYatras on a regular basis, campaigning on various themes concerning the rights of dalit women and girl children.
Oppression, untouchability, poverty, illiteracy are all intertwined and constitute one vicious circle, where one leads to and forms the basis of the other in the chain. In addition to the caste/gender violence, the dalit women and girl child face domestic violence of the worst sort. This chain of vicious circle has to be broken with a multi-pronged approach and the efforts should be to realize the objective of mainstreaming the dalit women and girl children into potential rights activists, leaders and entrepreneurs.
DSS has been engaged in regular motivation camps to youth and girl children in schools and colleges. Due to influence of media, particularly internet, mobile phones with WhatsApp, Facebook and other applications, the youth are spending, rather fiddling away, lot of time in net and apps. While a majority are thus wasting time, quite a few are abusing the mobile and net for watching porno and sending obscene messages, photos etc to girls.
Assertion for rights inspires to grow and be independent economically and economic independence boosts self-assertion. Both are intertwined and one strengthens the other. Hence it is necessary to devise plans for economic independence of dalit women by enlightening them and motivating them to demand for various entitlements. DSS has been insisting for the implementation of SC Sub Plan and Tribal Sub Plan and has raised its demand for equal budget to dalit Adivasi women. It played an active role in getting the SCSP/TSP Act in the year 2013. DSS has translated the Act into local language and campaigned continuously in all its villages.
Round Table Conferences
Public Hearings and Round Table Conferences are conducted almost every year to focus the plight of the victims in accessing justice and the apathy of the justice administration system. They are organized at district and state level involving victims & witnesses, higher officials of all concerned departments of the Government, Commissions, Advocates, Social Activists, reputed intellectuals of state and national eminence and media. All these years, Public Hearings served the purpose of accessing justice to the victims, sensitizing the officials and public at large through media.
In modern period, from19 century onwards, every nation developed a new understanding of children, their protection and development and the role of the State in this regard. Now, in the era of human rights discourse, it is universally accepted by all that childhood is the period of joyful and healthy growth along with learning. Recognizing the need to safeguard and protect the children everywhere, the UN adopted child rights convention which guarantees safeguards for happy and healthy childhood for every child and confers various rights on them.
No rights organization can function in isolation and DSS doesn't subscribe to the notion of isolated functioning. In fact, the chief objective of DSS is to sensitize and mobilize the support of all sections of population at the State, National and International levels, to the dalit women movement for rights and justice. In the past 15 years DSS could focus the dalit women question on the agenda of all, through its campaigns, public hearings, public meetings, protest actions and other activities.
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