Ayodhya makes headlines mostly for the wrong reasons. However, a training workshop in the city seeks to empower Dalit women through raising law and rights awareness.
A systemic method of subjugation via cruelty, oppression, and prejudice has been in place in India for very long in its treatment towards Dalits. Despite having made advancements in socio-cultural arenas elsewhere, India, on the whole, has not been able to change the way people think on this matter even today. This is especially true of rural India. At the same time, a patriarchal society has ensured that women remain the more suppressed of the genders. The position of the Dalit woman, hence, has seen a double whammy of the worst kind in the country.
Dalit women have been dealing with violence inside as well as outside their homes for far too long, since their voice has never found real representation.
The lack of legal awareness is a major reason for this, and with this in mind, the Vishakha Foundation and the All India Dalit Women’s Rights Forum decided to hold a training workshop in Faizabad, to make people aware of the law and legalities and help Dalit women traverse the complex world of crime and law.
Maalti, from the Vishakha Foundation in Ayodhya, told us about the initiative, “Dalit women have been facing a lot of violence from powerful people in society. All we hear about is that they are being raped or murdered, but we never hear of them getting justice.” She added that too many women are scared to come out into the open about crimes committed against them, and that there is an omnipresent sense of dabang-type men and oppressive practices that only too often resort to violence.
Sunaina Smriti, an Ayodhya local and a Dalit woman herself, explains it so, “Because of the lack of facilities and opportunities, the Dalit caste has to suffer. Even if there are some facilities available to them, they do not know of them. The upper castes do not let them progress and develop in society. That’s why whatever happens, happens to our caste only.”
The training initiative was focussed on informing Dalit women of the law, and what their rights are as citizens of India.
The other strong point on the agenda was to urge the women to speak up for themselves and fight for their rights whenever the need arises.
Sona Smriti, the head of the All India Dalit Women’s Rights Forum, told us, “We are looking at the situation from the top, and so we need to work at the grassroots-level in order to understand the pain these Dalit women are going through. Only then will we be able to help them. Bundelkhand at the moment is where we have started working in full force. We wish to work here with our fellow volunteers and activists to make women aware of their rights.” She further added how the role of the government is complicit in the issue, “They should be completely unbiased and transparent in providing the Dalit women their rights as stated in the Constitution.”
Initiatives such as these help in gathering the community together to learn to stand up for their rights collectively.