Received from ALF:
#JusticeforJisha: Protest at Town Hall, Bangalore
May 6th, 2016 at 5pm
On April 28, at 8 pm, Jisha (29), an Ernakulam Government Law College student, was found brutally murdered in her house near Perumbavoor, Kerala. Jisha’s body was discovered by her mother Rajeswari, with at least thirty stab wounds, her entrails exposed, and severe injuries to her genitals. Though the police suspect that the culprits have brutally attacked her body in order to hide evidence of sexual assault, post mortem reports and laboratory results, as on date, are awaited to confirm details of the crime.
Jisha and her mother lived together in a small house in Rayamangalam Panchayat. Although multiple schemes by the panchayat for construction of toilets for SC families exist, there are no toilets in this household – this shows glaring exclusions faced by this single mother Dalit household. In spite of Rajeswari complaining to the Kurupampady police about threats issued by certain individuals against her daughter and herself, the police did not take any action. This undeniably points towards the complicity and culpability of the police in the crime.
A full five days after the crime, the police due to increased public pressure, has resorted to questioning and detaining migrant labourers in the area and three other individuals, without much evidence. This is a despicable attempt by the police to criminalise and scapegoat a few without much proper enquiry. The neighbours also did not respond to the cries of the mother when she found the body. The media has slowly begun reporting on the crime after a deafening silence for many days. This apathy on the part of the police, the media, and the general public shows the culture of impunity that Dalit women have to navigate everyday, not to mention that both victims and survivors of caste-based sexual violence are denied justice repeatedly.
On March 29th, the dead body of Delta Meghwal, a 17 year old Dalit girl from a village in Barmer district of Rajasthan was found in the water tank of the Jain Adarsh Teacher Training Institute for girls in Nokha, Bikaner, where she was studying. On March 25th, a 20 year old Dalit woman was dragged and raped in the Mukstar district of Punjab. It came to light on April 5th that a minor Dalit girl in Thiruvananthapuram rural district was brutally raped and repeatedly abused for over two months. Very recently, on May 4th, reports of a young,Dalit nursing student who was gangraped at Ayanthi in Varkala, Kerala are emerging.
There are several fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution being brutally denied to Dalit girls and women in these cases – the right to life, the right to dignity, and the right to education to name just a few. While we protest against these crimes, let us also acknowledge that it is the continuing caste apartheid that perpetrates and sanctions such brutal acts of violence on Dalit women. And for this, each one of us who are probably not at the receiving end of caste violence and are not the perpetrators or the state, need to take urgent responsibility. Also, while these are only a few examples of caste-based sexual crimes, amidst those reported, against Dalit women, it is irrefutable that sexual violence has historically and actively been used as a tool of oppression against Dalit, Bahujan, and Adivasi women with the sanction and complicity of the brahmanical Indian state.
While the long term goal to end this violence is a complete destruction of the caste system; with these recent incidents, we demand that:
- An efficient and an unbiased high level investigation begin, with a special investigating team, into the murder of Jisha
- Immediate legal assistance be provided to Jisha’s family and the family of the girl in Varkala.
- The cases be tried in a fast track or a special court to ensure speedy trial.
- Criminals be apprehended on the basis of evidence and not to appease the “collective conscience” of society.
- Alternate housing and living expenses be provided for Jisha’s mother Rajeshwari.
- National and state level human rights commissions take immediate cognizance of these cases.
- The media, print and electronic, refrain from showing brutal depictions of the incident.
- Immediate action be taken against media channels who do not respect the right to dignity and privacy of the families.
- Assistance and protections be given to the survivor in Varkala to enable her to live her life and continue her education.