Say Her Name: Why Anti-Caste Activists are Using Hathras Rape Victim’s Name to Seek Justice

Cops creamted the victim's body at around 3 am while her family members were home.

Cops creamted the victim’s body at around 3 am while her family members were home.

A 19-year-old Dalit girl was brutally gang-raped in Hathras, UP. Before succumbing to her injuries at Delhi’s AIIMs, the victim named four upper caste men as the pepetrators of the crime.

  • Last Updated: September 30, 2020, 2:06 PM IST


The brutal gangrape and death of a 19-year-old Dalit girl in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, has left the country shocked. The woman was gang-raped a fortnight ago, following which she was admitted to the AMU’s Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital. The accused had also tried to strangulate her to death as she resisted their attempt.

Even as violent and gory details of the rape and murder went viral, the death has brought back memories of the brutal gangrape from 2012 in New Delhi. This particular case of violence, however, does not reflect just gender violence but caste-based gender violence perpetrated by the upper caste against women but violence against women from scheduled castes.

While many raised their voice against the selective outrage against the Hathras rape victim, anti-caste and Dalit gender activists have raised their voice against the attempt to pass it off as just another matter of gender violence. Even as critics attacked news channels for revealing the caste identity of the victim and the four accused upper-caste men, many have taken to social media to trend the victim’s name to highlight her caste identity.

While some called out the selective outrage, others took to the microblogging site to collectively tweet “Say Her Name” followed by the victim’s name.

It may be noted that revealing the name of a rape or sexual assault survivor or victim is name is illegal under the Indian Penal Code. This is done to protect the identity of the survivors/victim and their families.

India is one of the only countries in the world with such high rates of caste-based violence. As per data, over four Dalit women are raped every day in India. Violence against Dalits and other scheduled caste women is part of a pattern of caste-based discrimination and oppression that is prevalent in large parts of India.

Caste-based gender violence is also used to make political points such as in 1997 when members of Ranvir Sena, an upper-caste fringe group in Bihar, raped and mutilated Dalit women before massacring them in Laxmanpur-Bathe, Bihar.

In 2016 alone, 2541 Dalit women were reportedly raped and further 3,172 cases of assault were registered against SC women. And 973 cases of rape were reported in 2016 against ST women. According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) 2016 data, the largest chunk of atrocities against SC/STs (13.9 percent for SC and 14.8 percent for ST) constitute sexual crimes against the women of both communities. And these are only the reported cases. According to activists, a majority of them go unreported.

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