We, condemn the gruesome incident of heinous rape and murder of a 30-year old law student from Kuruppamapdy, villageVattolippidi Canal Bund near Perumbavoor in Kerala’s Ernakulam district. On the evening of April 28th 2016, her mother, a daily-wage labourer returned home to find her youngest daughters body mutilated, raped and murdered. She was studying for her law exams at home when the incident took place. Her body had 38 injuries, including in the genitals.
We are appalled at the apathy extended towards the family by the state, sdministration and the mainstream media. Police refused to file First Information Report on the night of April 28th 2016, when, mother of victim approached them. After five full days of inaction and pressure by Dalit activists in Kerela FIR was registered. Additionally, the mainstream media’s handling of the case stands in violation of the law that prohibits the use of the name of the victim/survivor in media. However this case saw a parading of the dead victim. Her photos were paraded by mainstream media and circulated. Denying the Dalit women respect and dignity even in death.
The victim’s family was a woman headed-household who were continuously harassed by the middle caste/class neighborhood by denying them access to water, and other daily resources. Despite that the family continued to struggle and survive. The daughter soon after getting admission earlier, owing to poor financial conditions, had to give up her studies at one point of time. Later she was determined to pursue her law degree hoping to work towards access to justice for the poor and marginalised. Her entry into the educational institutions is part of the in-roads/ upward social mobility, made by the Dalit-Bahujan community in spaces of higher education that have been historically denied to them. The rape and murder of this student is a retaliation of this occupying of public space by a Dalit woman. Further the community in shunning the incident by putting the blame on the ‘outsider’ the migrant labourer.
This rape is not a stand alone incident in the daily violence meted out on Dalit bodies in their access of public spaces in Kerala. To cite few cases in the recent past , just two days back a Dalit nursing student was raped in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram and also Chitralekha a Dalit auto riksha driver has been continuously harassed by CPI (M) goons since 2004. The incidence stands in a long list of state apartheid towards the Dalit community. In Kerala crime rate against SCs is 26.8 and that against STs is 27.8 (the All india crime rate for SCs is 23.4 and STs is 11.0- NCRB 2014).
Caste based violence and gender based violence don’t work in isolation but are hand-in-glove with each other. They have to be placed in the larger history of violence meted out on the basis of caste and gender. The intersectionality works in insidious manner through the bodies of women. We see gender based violence tied with caste based violence both of which are used as tools of violence and discrimination and perpetuated by the State and its machinery. Caste is the underlying reality of the country; hence attempt at looking at gender-based violence minus the caste reality of it is a gross injustice to understanding gender-based violence. As collectives committed towards a non-funded grassroots effort started in November 2009, to put an end to the violence being perpetrated upon our bodies and societies, we are a nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements comprising of women’s organizations, mass organizations, civil liberty organizations, student and youth organizations, mass movements and individuals. We unequivocally condemn state repression and sexual violence on our women and girls by any perpetrator(s). We demand
- Immediate arrest of the accused involved
- Speedy trial of the case as per Criminal law Amendment Act 2013 & SC/ST POA Act 1989
- Competent legal representation of the victim
- State to provide adequate compensation to the family of the deceased .
- Independent inquiry by NHRC, NCW and NCSC
- Action against police officials who refused to file an FIR on day of the incident as per Sec 166A
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is a non funded grassroots effort started in November 2009, to put an end to the violence being perpetrated upon our bodies and societies. See more here.