Lower-caste Dalit women in northern India are targeted for rape by upper-caste men who usually escape justice as survivors bow to pressure to drop their cases, researchers found in a study released on Wednesday.
Only 10 per cent of 40 rape cases involving Dalit women and girls in Haryana state ended with the conviction of all those charged, and these involved murder or victims under the age of six, found two rights groups, Equality Now and the Swabhiman Society.
In almost 60pc of cases, the survivor withdrew her case and accepted a “compromise” settlement outside the legal system, usually after unofficial village councils, or Khap Panchayats, coerced the women to abandon their quest for justice, it said.
“Survivors are threatened, face violence, their families are ostracised and there is extreme pressure to stay silent,” Manisha Mashaal, founder of the Dalit rights group, Swabhiman Society, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“To access justice, survivors have to put their lives at risk and endanger their families as well.”
Haryana’s director general of police Manoj Yadava said that he was unaware of the report, adding that they had a “zero tolerance” policy to crimes against women in the state.