Having just returned from India I am pleased to report that this project continues to give much needed support to women who are experiencing caste discrimination, sexual harassment and domestic violence.
It saddens me; however, to report that our project partner continues to receive many requests for assistance from young women who have been subjected to despicable sexual assaults from men of higher castes. These heinous crimes continue because there is little or no redress under a rural legal system which is largely ignored by police and local authorities.
It is for this reason that our project partner works tirelessly to bring criminals and their protectors, including police and doctors to justice.
In my last report I shared the story of Diksha Ashruba Shinde and her sister Panchshila of Shindi village, Beed District. The sisters were violently assaulted by a group of nine men in an unprovoked caste attack. Both Diksha and Panchshila were punched in the face and chest and beaten with sticks and iron rods.
Thanks to the work of this project, the doctor who refused to admit the sisters to the Kaij Rural Hospital was suspended from work and five police constables and one police inspector were suspended from work under section (4) of prevention of Atrocities Act.
The project’s team have also successful won compensation from local government for the sisters as a result of their advocacy work. The project’s publicity of the case drew the State Home Minister of Maharashtra to make an unprecedented declaration that any village accused of repeated atrocities would find its development fund frozen by government.
If there is a silver lining to this case it is that, with the help of the project, both Diksha and Panchshila, have fought to turn disaster into opportunity. Both sisters have enrolled for and been selected to attend Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work in Mumbai, where they will train in order to dedicate themselves to the empowerment and development of Dalit Women.
Thank you for your continued generous support for this project. Your generosity is giving young women like Diksha and Panchshila a voice and bringing criminals to justice.