Sex as a Weapon to Settle Scores against Dalits: An Quotidian Phenomenon
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In the Indian context, caste controls the gender norms as women are producers of the notion of ‘caste purity’. Historically, the violation of caste codes including those related to women have been subjected to punishment through the instrument of social ostracism. Dalit men and women have been encountering culturally sanctioned violence, from higher caste people in the name of ‘violating social norms’ such as temple entry, untouchability, intercaste marriages, and so on. As a result, Dalits, especially women become easy targets for the ‘guardians of social authority’. Sadly, larger majority of Hindus remain immune to the occurrence of violence against Dalits. This article aims to address sexual violence, specifically rapes of Dalit women due to their intersectional position in the society. It explores the responses of state machinery on two case studies: Bhagana (2014) and Alwar (2019), wherein Dalit women’s rapes expose the power wielded by dominant caste communities. The paper shows the use of rape as an apparatus to humiliate a community and family in cases of land disputes involving Dalit farmers.
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