Tuesday, December 15, 2009

[ZESTCaste] Rape takes bigger toll on dalit women


Rape takes bigger toll on dalit women
Nandita Sengupta, TNN 15 December 2009, 02:30am IST

NEW DELHI: Dalit women who have suffered caste rapes were subjected to
more humiliation than other women similarly assaulted, says a first of
its kind research study detailing psychological trauma of women

When dalit women are assaulted, offenders use foul language vilifying
the woman verbally, says the survey, invariably calling them
prostitutes. "The feeling of being dehumanized, of having been
demeaned is far greater for dalit women," says clinical psychologist
Rajat Mitra, who led the study conducted by NGO Swanchetan that works
with victims of sexual assault. Mitra notes that in any other rape,
the victim is not called a 'prostitute'.

Titled 'A research study on sexual assault', it was done through
detailed interviews of victims identified by state-level NGOs and
government homes as well as by inviting victims to take part in the
survey via posters and radio announcements.

Of the 122 identified, 66 women agreed to the interview. The
questionnaire's themes were identified and built on basis of data
collected over the last 10 years and conducted in the last two. Being
a first of its kind, interviewers too were sensitized to the demands
of the survey, says Mitra. Mean and standard deviation for each
psychological parameter was calculated; t-test and Duncan's mean test
used for comparative analyses.

The comparative study between dalits and non-dalits showed that dalits
felt anguish to a greater degree of intensity. They often see rape as
"something ordained" by virtue of a double disadvantage: being dalit
and woman. "Whenever a dalit woman is raped, it gets connected to all
other sufferings and discriminations. Dalits being in a disadvantaged
position and there's no resilience, no bouncing back," says Mitra.

"The women shared that during the attack, the men seemed to have more
pleasure in humiliating their origins and background," adds Mitra. The
report details their almost-ritualistic ostracism after the rape where
older dalit women also attempt to explain rape as "tradition".

In a qualitative assessment, the report says girls are almost prepared
to expect assault.

It says, "Allusions to rape by upper castes begin to appear in subtle
conversations and often inflate their anxiety and depressive symptoms
that begin to mark (rape) as inevitable in the mind of young dalit
girls." It is important, says Mitra, for a different rehabilitation
policy for dalit women with special training for mental health
professionals, judiciary and police sensitizing them to the caste


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