Dalit Mahila Garima Yatra: Updates from the Karwan

 

Asha Kowtal

Following the spate of media reports of gang rapes on dalit women in Haryana, several dalit organizations came together to express solidarity with the rape survivors and outrage against the institutionalized sexual violence on dalit women, by conducting a Karwan called Dalit Mahila Garima Yatra. In this photo-essay, through images we bring you the updates of this 9 day Karwan, as it traveled through towns and villages of Haryana meeting rape survivors, officials and community members.

Broadly, the images give an idea of the highlights of this campaign which include meeting rape survivors and their families; meeting with officials; facilitating meetings between rape survivors and officials; helping with justice-enabling procedures such as filling out FIR's, submitting petitions, and doing outreach work about the SC/ST POA act to community members as well as meeting with survivors and protesters of older atrocities such as the rehabilitation struggles of Mirchpur violence.

But mostly, we would like the images to speak of the immense strength and resilience of the rape survivors, their families and the community members during this campaign, as I commented earlier today to Savari members 'we are all energised by the process and ofcourse we are once again reminded of our very small role/contribution in the struggles of our community. Often, we tend to make the mistake of burdening ourselves, but instead the resilience of our community and survivors of violence shows us the way ahead.'

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We are assembling in front of Babasaheb's statue in DC office, Fatehabad; volunteers are preparing the petition for the case brought to the karwan this morning.

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We had a very successful public meeting at Secretariat in Hisar with participation of almost 500 people. Slogans didn't stop until DC came down to receive memorandum. The survivors from Mirchpur, Dabra and Bhawana presented the memorandum.

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Savita handing the memorandum to Additional DC at Sonepat.

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Rajesh facilitating discussion of survivors with SDM at Bhiwani district. Community is encouraged with presence of Karwan.

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Volunteers prepare applications for survivors of violence with whom we made contact during the community meetings. Even after three months, the survivors are running from pillar to post for FIR!!

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Day 5 ends in Fatehabad district. The energy is great and going strong. Dalit women leaders are actively leading the Yatra. It's fantastic!

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Candle march in Hisar.

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After Hisar, the Karwan has reached Battukala and assembled at the Panchayat office with community members.

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BIG Thank you to our friends who hosted us at Ambedkar hostel in Hisar!

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Candle vigil at Gohana.

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End of Day 3 of the Karwan - from Bhiwani to Hisar. Great encouragement from the people of our community. We have been hosted by them in every district. It is energizing. We cooked our dinner and staying at Ambedkar hostel in Hisar. Here is a pic of celebration in the struggle!

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Karwan moves to its final stage. Now in Kurukshetra. Closing sammelan is tomorrow at Karnal. Pls join if you can.

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Manisha Devi sharing about SC/ST Act with members of community.

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Meeting Dalit families who fled Mirchpur post the carnage and have been living in tents for past two and half years. They cannot go back to their village. SC/ST PoA Act and witnesses protection ? Rehabilitation of survivors? Questions !!! No answers.

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Swati Singh And Manisha Devi With family who have been protesting outside DC office in Fatehabad.

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Nukkad Sabha - volunteers enacting a play about violence against Dalit women at Community hall in Hisar town.

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Meeting with survivors of caste violence in Bhawani district. Caste abuses, breaking bones, beatings and urinating into mouth - the dominants unleash their sick minds once again. The case is not registered instead counter added have been put on the family.

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Public meeting in front of Collector's office in Sonepat.

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Savita, AIDMAM State Coordinator addressing the media at Candle vigil at Gohana.

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SC Comission useless for us say people who have faced Social boycott in their village Bhagana - ostracized but resilient in the struggle camping outside mini secretariat in Hisar for 6 months.

 

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Submitting memorandum to ADC in Fatehabad. Insensitive officials and police. Karwan members managed to facilitate a discussion with survivors and officials. Follow up plans needed now ! I'm leaving the district very very disturbed.

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This is Savita - Young And Energetic Dalit Woman Activist.

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Women leaders of the Karwan enroute to Sonepat.

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Subsequent articles by fellow participants and organizers of the Garima Yatra will detail the logistics of organizing such an intensive and sustained awareness campaign against the violent intersections of caste, patriarchy and willful apathy of officials that wrecks the lives of dalit women and their families.

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asha_kotwalAsha Kowtal is the General Secretary of the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM).

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