UPDATE (INDIA): A Dalit woman was paraded naked in public


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-35-2001
ISSUES: Caste-based discrimination,

Caste-based discrimination – cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment 

According to reliable sources in India, a Dalit (meaning “oppressed” – the name now used for those formerly called “Untouchables” in India) woman belonging to the Dasara community of Bellari in the Indian state of Karnataka was paraded naked in public by the upper caste people because of an allegation that she assisted Maramma, a 15-year-old upper caste girl who belonged to the Valmiki community in Bellari, to elope with her fianc? 


Maramma fell in love with Kesappa, a tractor driver, and they eloped to the nearby village of Galleru. After making inquiries, the relatives of Maramma learned that she had eloped with the assistance of a woman named Yeramma. 

It was at this time that a Dalit woman named Yeramma, who was totally innocent and who does not know either Maramma or her fianc?or their families, came to Galleru to assist her daughter who had recently given birth to a baby. The relatives of Maramma and some others who had learned that a person named Yeramma had come to their village caught her, thinking that it was this Yeramma who had assisted Maramma to elope with her fianc? They then proceeded to forcefully remove her clothes in public. While Yeramma resisted, not knowing what she had done to deserve such violent treatment, the mob removed her undergarments, ripping them open with a razor. She was then manhandled thoroughly before she was paraded naked in public. Yeramma’s husband and her son came to her rescue, but they were threatened away from the scene by the angry mob. Yeramma was then paraded for nearly half a kilometre in broad daylight, the crowd shouting and yelling behind her. 

In Bellari, the caste name decides the family status as it does elsewhere in India. The culprits who belonged to the Valmiki community, who are the most influential community in Bellari, were arrested by the police. The administration ordered an inquiry into the incident that was led by the deputy police commissioner of the area who ordered Yeramma to accept 10,000 rupees (US$238) from the assailants as the value of her honour and to settle the issue. Yeramma though has refused this settlement and has insisted that those who are responsible be prosecuted to see to it that the assailants are punished. 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has continuously issued urgent appeals and other statements about the discrimination and atrocities being committed against Dalits in order to draw international attention to their plight and to create pressure for this concern to become an important topic for discussion at the upcoming U.N. World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, that begins on August 31. The Indian government, however, has been working to see to it that the issue of caste discrimination is never debated at this conference. More information about this issue is available at our web site at http://wcar.alrc.net.

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-35-2001
Countries : India,
Issues : Caste-based discrimination,