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Formed in 2000, the IDSN is a network of international organisations, national solidarity networks and affected country groups, campaigning against caste-based discrimination throughout the world, from the dalits of South Asia to the Osu of Nigeria and the Burakumin of Japan. Visit our website International Dalit Solidarity Network for more information. SUBMIT DALIT NEWS HERE

Tuesday, September 30, 2003  
I was molested, faeces-mixed water thrown at me: Dalit woman

The Hindu - 30 September

``What happened to me last week should not befall on any other woman in the world.'' The visibly upset, P. Muthumari (38), a Dalit of Keezha Urappanur in Madurai district, let out a scream of pain, failing to control her emotions.

Not only was she molested by a caste Hindu but also human faeces-mixed water was showered on her along with a torrent of abuse, the Dalit woman alleged.

Addressing a press conference arranged by the People's Watch-Tamil Nadu here today, Muthumari narrated her tale of woe thus: C. Raja (40), a caste Hindu, had been reportedly attempting to subject her to sexual assault for the past over six months.

Though he had been making overtures on several occasions in the past, things came to head on September 22. While returning home alone around 2 p.m., Muthumari, who did not comply, was waylaid by Raja, who `hurled abuses' against her, the Dalit woman claimed. Shocked by his unseemly behaviour, she started running towards her house, dropping the head load of cattle fodder. But she did not fail to warn Raja that the issue would be raised at the `oor panchayat'. The caste-Hindu also warned her of `dire consequences' if she dared to do so, Muthumari claimed.

As her husband, Pitchai, a construction worker, returned home around 7 p.m., she outpoured her grief to him. Even as he consoled her saying that the issue could be taken up with the village elders the next day, a group of persons including Raja, his wife, Vijaya, and their relatives came there around 8 p.m.

Hurling abuses against Muthumari, Raja allegedly pulled her saree and hit her on the chest and abdomen, she said recalling with revulsion the way Vijaya splashed the faeces-mixed water on her face and chest even before she could recover from the shock.

``For the past seven days I am unable to take food as the very thought of the incident is revolting,'' she said adding that she would have ended her life immediately after the humiliation but changed her mind in view of the wellbeing of her two sons.

Some of Raja's relatives, who accompanied him to the Dalit's house, had gone to the extent of claiming that they were in fact thinking in terms of getting Muthumari tonsured, besides making her remit a fine of Rs. 1,000 for ``insulting a caste Hindu'', she said. Two of her neighbours — Kulandaiamma and Valli — confirmed the attack on the Dalit woman. But for this untoward incident, members of the two communities lived in harmony, they said.

Following a complaint lodged with the Tirumangalam town police, Raja was arrested the next day under Sections 323, 354 and 355 IPC and Section 3 (1) (x) of the SC-ST (prevention of atrocities) Act, 1989.

A fact-finding team of the People's Watch-Tamil Nadu, which visited the village advanced recommendations including taking action against Raja, Vijaya and those who accompanied them under Sections 3 (1) (ii), (iii) and (xi) of the SC-ST (PA) Act, 1989, adequate protection for Muthumari and her family, a probe by the National SC-ST Commission in the village, recording the victim's statement by the judicial magistrate under Section 164 Cr.Pc., disbursal of government relief to the Dalit woman and setting up a watchdog panel comprising human rights activists and people's representatives.

11:41 AM

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