Dalit Women have triple identity in the form of caste, class and gender since India being a highly patriarchal and caste-based society. The dalit women are positioned at the lowest social order of Indian society will have to face many forms of discrimination, including lack of education, economic disadvantages, social disempowerment, domestic violence, political invisibility, and sexual oppression. They are most vulnerable and face untouchability, discrimination and violence much more than any other women including their male counterparts and are even denied livelihood and entitlements.
In order to curtail violence against dalit women and with a view of accessing justice DSS has taken up Public Hearings in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The public hearing brings about the knowledge of real situation of dalits vis-à-vis the administration of justice to the high profile members of the jury also and they will also know how the state personnel are reckless in rendering justice to dalit victims. The entire process acts as a pressure on the state machinery as it gets exposed of how it failed/neglected the dalit victims. The concerned officials whose responsibility it was to have attended to the case are exposed. On the whole the system in its true colours is made known.
As the first activity we organized Public Hearings at District level with the concerned district level officers in Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Krishna, Guntur, West Godavari, East Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts starting from 30th November till 15th December 2011.
The process followed is as follows:
· Finalised the dates and venues for holding District Level Public Hearings
· Finalised 10 major cases of inter and intra community violence per each district, violations in the educational institutions such as anganwadi centres, government schools, social welfare hostels and denial of economical rights.
· Collection of data and documents
· Contacted Police, Judiciary, Social Welfare, Women & Child Welfare, Education, Rajeev Vidhya Mission, Revenue and other departments.
· Informed and invited like minded organizations, academic & eminent personalities
· Orientation to the victims and witnesses
· Contacted and mobilised print and electronic media
· Prepared Jury Kits district wise
· Organized the Public Hearings in the respective districts and the detailed report is as follows:
Public Hearings on violence against dalit women and girl children were organized in all the 7 districts from 30th November to 15th December 2011. The main objective of these public hearings was to bring the victims, witnesses and the district officials of concerned departments on to the same platform in order to speed up access to justice, sensitize the officials, and further strengthen the advocacy & lobby and much visibility for the cause. The details of public hearings district wise are as follows:
Ranga Reddy and Hyderabad Districts (30th November):The Public Hearing of these 2
districts was organized together at Hyderabad in Parwana Hall, Abids, Hyderabad. Victims and witnesses of 6 major cases of violence, violations in the anganwadi centres, government schools, social welfare hostels and the findings of the study on the dalit girl children in specific to these two districts and entitlements were presented before the jury.
Deputy Commissioner of Police-Crimes, Deputy Director-Social Welfare Department, Superintendent-Woman & Child Welfare Department, Executive Officer-SC Corporation, APM-Gender Wing of District Rural Development Authority, APO – District Water Management Agency, GCDO – Rajiv Vidya Mission and District Educational Officer has attended as jury members. The responses of the participating officers are as follows:
Knowledge is important and meetings of this type give us abundant knowledge and information
SC/ST (PoA) Act is a valuable weapon in the hands of the dalits and it should be utilized to the optimum level
Referring to the cases of Triveni and Hemalatha, sec 3(2)(V) has been added after investigation, which shows the firmness of the police in effective implementation of this Act.
This platform has given us a scope to know the gaps from our side.
The interaction with the victims and the jury kits enlightened us about the lack of coordination among the concerned departments and the delay caused in the payment of compensation, relief and rehabilitation.
The officials of the concerned departments have clearly explained about the role of their respective departments.
The concerned officers gave assurance to the victims to resolve the gaps as early as possible
Hundreds of dalit women assembling for a common cause itself is appreciable and also sends a strong message for the concerned officials and a warning to the violators.
The concerned departments have assured to access their schemes.
Krishna District (7th December):The public hearing was held in Indian Medical Association Hall
at Machilipatnam. Victims and witnesses of 7 major cases of violence, violations in the anganwadi centres, government schools, social welfare hostels and the findings of the study on the dalit girl children in specific to this district and entitlements were presented before the jury. Addl Supdt of Police, Joint Director-Social Welfare Department, Project Director - Woman & Child Welfare Department, PO – Rajiv Vidya Mission and Addl Sessions Judge & Secretary District Legal Services Authority have attended as the jury members. The responses of the concerned officers are as follows:
The issues pertaining to the schools mentioned in the jury kit shall be addressed immediately; likewise the remaining issues in general will be resolved in the process.
The agony of the victims is well understood and we promise to see that these things will not recur and assure to solve the gaps identified case wise.
The compensation and rehabilitation pending from the women & child welfare department in the rape cases will be followed up at the head office and the payment will be arranged soon.
SWD will play a lead role, bring in coordination between the line departments, organize district vigilance & monitoring committee meeting effectively, make the payments on time and rectify the violations of the respective hostels immediately
The issues brought out anganwadi centre wise will be solved within 3 months
A notice to the concerned officers will be issued pertaining to all the cases and issues mentioned in the jury kit by the Legal Services Authority
Guntur District (8th December): The public hearing was held in Conference hall of SC Corporation at Guntur. Victims and witnesses of 8 major cases of violence, violations in the anganwadi centres, government schools, social welfare hostels and the findings of the study on the dalit girl children in specific to this district and entitlements were presented before the jury. District Social Welfare Officer, Project Director - Woman & Child Welfare Department, Executive Director - SC Corporation, PO – Rajiv Vidya Mission and Integrated Child Development Officer have attended as the jury members. The responses of the duty bearers are as follows:
The compensation and rehabilitation pending from the women & child welfare department will be paid immediately to the victims; similarly all the issues pertaining to the anganwadi centres including shifting of the centres to dalit colonies will be done within a month.
The pending compensation from SWD will be sanctioned immediately and directions will be issued to the concerned officers for necessary and immediate action.
Woman and Child Welfare Department will provide free residential education to all the children of rape victims.
The issues pertaining to the social welfare hostels will be solved immediately as already some are in the process.
The infrastructural issues pertaining to the schools will be solved before the next academic year.
SC Corporation has assured to give financial assistance for income generation programs to women collectives
West Godavari District (13th December): The public hearing was held in Conference hall of Hotel Madhulatha at Eluru.Victims and witnesses of 6 major cases of violence, violations in the anganwadi centres, government schools, social welfare hostels and the findings of the study on the dalit girl children in specific to this district and entitlements were presented before the jury. DSP (Woman) Eluru, Joint Director Social Welfare Department, Project Director - Woman & Child Welfare Department, PO – Rajiv Vidya Mission and Integrated Child Development Officer, Inspector Prohibition & Excise, Audit officer, President Teachers Association, Rtd
Principal Manisingh have attended as the jury members. The responses of the jury members are as follows:
The police department has assured to take immediate action having heard from the victims whose cases have not been registered.
The investigation will be speeded up in the 2 murder cases and rape case
The delay caused in giving the medical report for rape cases will be sorted out through continues follow up as the payment of compensation is being delayed due to the medical reports
The issues in all the anganwadi centres will be resolved in this financial year.
The issues in the schools will be solved before the next academic year
The prohibition and excise department will take all necessary actions for the closure of belt shops in dalit colonies.
East Godavari District (14th December):The public hearing was held in Officers Club at Kakinada.Victims and witnesses of 8 major cases of violence, violations in the anganwadi
centres, government schools, social welfare hostels and the findings of the study on the dalit girl children in specific to this district and entitlements were presented before the jury. DSP (Women) Kakinada, Joint Director - Social Welfare Department,
ED - SC Corporation, Project Director- Woman & Child Welfare Department, PO –Rajiv Vidya Mission, Heads of the various dalit organizations has attended as the jury members. The responses of the jury members are as follows:
The SHOs and Inspectors will be sensitised for effective implementation of the Act.
The gaps identified will be solved by the respective departments and justice will be done to the victims.
All the departments, organizations and dalit women in specific need to wage an united ideological struggle against the social prejudices and male dominant perspective of society wherein the women are being treated as commodity and a price being fixed for her whenever her rights are violated.
The victims and witnesses need to be strengthened through orientation in order to reduce the acquittal rate.
To sensitize the concerned officers and continuously follow up case wise or issue wise
Visakhapatnam (15th December):The public hearing was held in Youth Hostel at
Visakhapatnam.Victims and witnesses pertaining to major cases of violence presented their agony, violations in the anganwadi centres, government schools, social welfare hostels and the findings of the study on the dalit girl children in specific to this district and issues relating to entitlements were presented before the jury.
Addl. Joint Collector, Deputy Director-Social Welfare Department, ED-SC Corporation, Project Director - Woman & Child Welfare Department, PO-Rajiv Vidya Mission, DSP (Women) Visakhapatnam, Heads of the various dalit organizations, Prof Sudha–AP University of Law have attended as the jury members. The responses of the jury members are as follows:
· All the cases and the violations presented will be solved with immediate effect by bringing them to the notice of the Collector.
This public hearing has brought sensitization in us and definitely all the participants will gain much knowledge.
Direct interaction with the victims increases the responsibility and reminds of the accountability.
The interaction with DSS like this type of meeting for the second time was helpful to our department
The help desk of the police department will put much emphasis on these cases and do justice to the victims
We need to fight against the corporatization and commercialization of education as it is denying education to poorer sections of the community
Such a large number of dalit women gathering together, bringing the victims and demanding for justice in front of the concerned officers is amazing and proves that DSS is going on a right path in mainstreaming the dalit women and girl children
Ø Raised the voice for policy level change in making the payment of compensation directly by Social Welfare Department
Ø Social Welfare Department to play a lead role and ensure coordination among the concerned departments in atrocity cases for speedy justice
Ø Women & Child Welfare Department to make payment of compensation directly as the present procedure is consuming much time.
Ø Women & Child Welfare Department to pay compensation and provide rehabilitation in murder cases of intra community violence
Ø Judiciary and Police departments to review the quash petitions, stay orders and anticipatory bails given against SC/ST (PoA) Act and restrain the present practice
Confidence levels increased among the victims and witnesses
Increase in the accountability of the concerned departments
Officials sensitised towards the cause
Linkages strengthened with the district officials
Much visibility for the women collectives at district level
Much visibility for the cause through print and electronic media
Future Course of Action:
The penal and pecuniary gaps identified case wise are being followed-up intensively with the concerned departments at district level and regional level.
In continuation to this, we are planning to organize a State Level Public in the month of March 2012