By Sharanya Gopinathan
On the 8th of April, a 21-year old Dalit student of the School of Open Learning (SOL), Delhi University, committed suicide. In her suicide letter, she mentions the casteist slurs her boyfriend of three years used on her when she told him she wanted to get married to him.
The Indian Express reports that the girl’s family said that they went to a police station to file a complaint against the man, but did not get help at first. Pinjra Tod, on their Facebook page, said that the police suggested she work out a settlement with him instead, thereby ignoring the force and nature of the caste-based gender violence that she faced. Their post also says that as a student of the SOL, she would not have access to support from Delhi University Internal Complaints Committees. Their post goes on to question whether the outcome in the sad case of this woman would have been different had there actually been an Internal Complaints Committee available to students of the SOL, and if she had known she would have the support of the university when filing a police complaint.
Students at the university have been carrying out protests at the SOL. They have demanded that immediate action be taken against the police personnel who refused to file the original complaint. They’re further demanding that Internal Complaints Committees for sexual harassment be formed at the SOL, and the establishment of Equal Opportunity Cells in SOL and all Delhi University colleges to deal with caste-based discrimination, harassment and violence.
Which makes a lot of sense. It’s mandated by law for institutions to have internal complaints committees to deal with complaints of sexual harassment, and considering the extent and nature of caste-based violence and discrimination in India and the way it is intertwined with gendered violence, it’s a good idea to have mechanisms in place that are tailored to address it.
Such counters were also suggested by the author of What it Means to be a Dalit Woman in Corporate India in our live Twitter chat on #casteandcorporate, held on the 17th of March, 2017.