DSS has organized the 4th annual district general bodies of the respective districts in the month of December. Campaign was done in all the villages, the pending issues were prioritized and it was decided to bring up these issues before the authorities during the general body meetings. Press meets were also held in the districts before general body meetings.
Guntur District: The Guntur district general body meeting was held on 11th December 2009 at Ambedkar bhavan, Guntur. The women collective members from all the 4 revenue divisions have participated. The district coordinator has presided over the meeting and the other dignitaries on the dias were Jhansi Geddam – Convener DSS, Swarupa Rani – District project manager DRDA, K Vinay Kumar – President DBF and state women collective members have participated. Addressing the gathering Jhansi has said that on one side serious regional agitations led by dominant communities demanding separate states is going on, and though it is bandh to day many of the dalit women are here to raise their voices for seeking mere entitlements such as pensions, petty loans, NREGS job cards, etc. Though we got the constitution 60 years back and the SC/ST Act 20 years back, but still not much change in our lives, therefore we need to critically examine the reasons for our under development. Swarupa Rani has detailed about various schemes meant for dalt women and has asked to utilize them in a proper way. Korivi Vinay Kumar and programme manager – DSS have also addressed the gathering.
Krishna District: The Krishna district general body meeting was held on 15th December 2009 at Press club, Vijayawada. The women collective members from all the 4 revenue divisions have participated. The district coordinator has presided over the meeting and the other dignitaries on the dias were Jhansi Geddam – Convener DSS, Prof. Swrupa Rani – ANU, Siripurapu Gritan – Diputy Mayor, Jhansi – General Secretary of SC employees association, Daniel Vijaya Prakash – Program manager – DSS, Indira Priyadarshini and Padma – SWC members have participated. Addressing the gathering Swarupa Rani has said dalit women are being oppressed due to various social customs and norms. Development is possible only when they come out and break these customary norms. Jhansi – Convener has said that dalit women can retaliate against the violence on them only when they are capacitated. Therefore DSS is working on these lines to protect and promote the rights of dalit women and girl children. Gritton, Jhansi, Prakash and others have also addressed the gathering.
East Godavari District: The East Godavari district general body meeting was held on 16th December 2009 at Ambadkar Bhavan, Amalapuram. The women collective members from all the 4 revenue divisions have participated. The district coordinator has presided over the meeting and the other dignitaries on the dias were Jhansi Geddam – Convener DSS,
B Lavanya Veni – RDO Amalapuram, Daniel Vijay Prakash – Program manager – DSS members of state women collective and chief functionaries of like minded organizations have also participated. Addressing the gathering the RDO has said the government is implementing many welfare schemes for the up liftment of the dalits, hence we need to be aware of all these schemes and possess them. In response to the memorandum submitted to the RDO she assured the women collectives to resolve all the pending issues. KP Ram, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bonthu Nela Veni and others have also addressed the gathering
Hyderabad District: The Hyderabad district general body meeting was held on 18th December 2009 at Press club, Hyderabad. The women collective members representing 60 slums have participated. The district coordinator has presided over the meeting and the other dignitaries on the dias were Jhansi Geddam – Convener DSS, Prof. Pushpa Chakrapani – BRAOU, Rama Jyothi and Nirmala – CDPOs of Women welfare and child welfare department and SWC members. Pushpa has said that unless and until we agitate for our rights, equality cannot be achieved. She also said that education is one of the important means for development therefore we should ensure that our children are educated.
The CDPOs have detailed about various welfare schemes being taken up by their department for the development of women and girl child. They have also promised to see that the pending issues with them will be solved at the earliest. The other dignitaries on the dias have also addressed the gathering.
State Annual Conference
On Violence and Violations against Dalit Women and Girl Children
A state level public hearing was organized by DSS on 25th February at Hyderabad. The participants are victims and witnesses of various instances of violence & violations, state actors, senior advocates of high courts, journalists, academicians, subject experts, chief functionaries of state level like minded organizations, women collective members of DSS from 8 districts have participated. 18 cases of major violence were presented in the public hearing.
A 2 day mammoth program of dalit women was planned at state level and as part of it on the first day public hearing has been organized and on the second day public meeting was held.
The program was inaugurated with flag hoisting by Bojja Tharakam, Senior Advocate of High Court, followed by lighting of the lamp by all the dignitaries on the dias. The Convener-DSS giving a brief introduction on the public hearing has said that the main objective is as follows:
Sharing and understanding the agony of the victims in accessing justice and the psychological trauma they are undergoing after the violence.
To share the violations in anaganwadi centers, government schools and social welfare hostels.
To analyze the way justice system is functioning and impunity.
To sensitize the various personnel involved in the administration of justice.
To sensitize the public at large about the way justice system operates in case of dalit women
To share the experiences of DSS team
To share the situation of elected dalit women representatives of Panchayat Raj
Expected outcome is to work out strategies for ways forward in accessing justice and increase the accountability of the government actors.
In the inaugural address Tharakam has said that the only way left out for us is to revolt against injustice and capture power. Day by day the violence on dalit women is increasing in various new forms and the administration is backing them and suppressing the cases with many new strategies. The police are going to an extent of referring the cases as false and the judiciary going further ahead by giving anticipatory bails or quashing the cases by violating the Act. On the other side serious efforts are being put to impound the SC/ST Act on the pretext that it is being misused. Therefore we need to move forward in two angles, one for protecting the Act and the other for the effective implementation of the Act.
Prof Vinodini said that the dalits are vulnerable and the dalit women are vulnerable among the vulnerable. We are looked at inhuman by both, the outsiders as well as the husband. Therefore there is every need that we have to capacitate ourselves, organise ourselves and fight against injustice.
Girija said that it is the dalit women who are skilful and work hard the whole day to earn their livelihood and it is they only who face lot of violence from both the family and the society. The impact false on the children and their life is being ruined. Therefore we need to vastly increase the percentage of education in dalit girl children in order to avoid them from this vulnerable situation.
Jajula Gowri – Advocate said that legally we are down the ladder and hence the dalit women are being denied justice. Even the judiciary is in a helpless situation in accessing justice to dalit women. Therefore we need to empower the dalit women legally and wage a legal battle to access justice
Sajaya the freelance journalist has said that even the print and electronic media discriminate the dalit women and their issues are not a priority to them. But there is every need to bring much visibility for the cause and main stream the dalit women and girl children. Therefore we need to sensitize the media so that our issues are their priority and much visibility is given to us.
Cases presented before the jury:
Kidnap and gang rape: Kandikatla Mani Kumari (15) detailed with great agony the way she was taken away on the pretext of a good job and later gang raped by 3 persons continuously for about 10 days, likewise raped by the police for 3 days in the police station during their custody. She was in tears while saying about the way the investigation of the case went and ultimately she was portrayed as prostitute and the case was closed as false complaint.
Cheating and Desertion: Pathivela Sharon Kumari (22) said how she was cheated in the name of love, often beaten by her husband, forcibly aborted, deserting her while she was pregnant, ill treatment and caste discrimination by her husband and in-laws. She narrated how painful it is to stay with the parents along with the child.
Cheating Desertion and false case: Pitla Suvarna(28) detailed about the way she was cheated though she had a baby. Further how she is being harassed with a false case stating that she is already married. She burst into tears and said that even the concerned Deputy Superintendent of Police has expressed his inability to do justice to her. She also said that out of fear and poverty is unable to send her son to school. At present we don t have to eat as we have sold the small piece of land which we had towards expenses for the case.
Sexual exploitation: Jyothi (14) said how her mother was harassed by her step father and the way she committed suicide unable to bear the harassment. Later she detailed how she was sexually exploited forcibly by her step father and made pregnant.
Abetment to Suicide: Prasanna Kumar father of deceased B. Anusha(20) degree final year student of Villa MarieCollege detailed about the caste discrimination she faced in the college, the irresponsible behaviour of the management and the way she has jumped from the 4th floor and committed suicide.
In the same way the other cases such as Ghanta Sirisha (14) rape and murder in the school at Gudivada, Krishna district narrated by the deceased father, Geddam Narsamma (20) of Pudur, Ranga Reddy being cheated and deserted, Godata Laxmi (40) the dalit surpanch of Divili , East Godavari harassed by dominant community, Meriga Bhavani (15) of Tumuluru, Guntur District rape and murder detailed by deceased mother , Badugu Vani(20) Baduguvari Peta, East Godavari cheating in the name of love, Gollapalli Devamma (42) Varikuntapadu , Nellore District victim of caste abuse, attack and alienation of land.
Justice in victim’s perspective:
Mani Kumari : All the accused including the police be arrested immediately
Sharon Kumari: Husband and in laws should be punished severely so that another dalit girl will not face the same problem
Suvarna: I lost what all I had, but justice has not been done. Inept police officers should be dismissed with immediate effect.
Jyothi: I lost my mother. I have a brother and sister. Who will look after us? Please search and bring back my natural father
Deceased Sirisha’s father: I don t have anybody. I am alone. Please do justice for me
Narsamma: I want back my husband
Laxmi: Either you see that accused is arrested or else I will kill him
Deceased Bhavani’s mother: I became heart patient after the death of my daughter. I don t no how long I will live, but I am going to killhim before I die if justice is not done to me
Vani: I want father for my son
Likewise some violations in anganwadi centres, schools and social welfare hostels were presented.
The pathetic situation of school in Vijayanagar colony, Hyderabad, Mandal Parishad Elimentary school in Kotta Ganesuni Padu, Primary school, Pedakakani, Primary school, Tarakaramanagar in Guntur District. Mandal Parishad elimentary school, B savaram , Mandal Parishad elimentary school, Kandikatla, Residential school at Mummudivaram, Primary school at Edarapalli in East Godavari were detailed.
The vulnerable situation in social welfare hostel for girls in Payakapuram, Vijayawada, Piduguralla, Rajagari thota and Vedulla Palli in Guntur District were presented in detailed.
The violations in anganwadi centres at Nidamarru, Kuragallu, Peda Kakani, Gaddipadu, Kottaganesunipadu in Guntur District and the centre in MCH colony, Hyderabad were explained in detailed.
Commissioner Social Welfare after hearing all the incidents was disturbed and shocked. He said I feel shy that I am unable to do justice to you all, though I am an IAS officer. It is true that the legislature, executive and judiciary will not help us. It is we who need to wage a courageous battle united. As the commissioner social welfare I am always at your service and I will do to my level best to access justice to you. The actions taken by me after resuming my charge (i) withdrawing all the male staff from social welfare hostels for girls (ii) thoroughly monitoring the implementation of the hostels (iii) streamlined the scholarships.
He has promised the victims to do justice at the earliest and has assured that he will take necessary action and see that the concerned officers will act accordingly.He has also promised to give a toll free number which can be accessed throughout the state and has asked DSS to take the responsibility of monitoring the toll free number. He has suggested
DSS to join the state level vigilance and monitoring committee for which he is the nodal officer. The Commissioner appreciated the work of DSS and has said that though he has a busy schedule, but still has stayed for a long time to pass a message that he is with DSS.
IV th Annual General Body Meeting
The 4th Annual state general body meeting was held at Hyderabad on 26th February 2010. The photos of Dr BR Ambedkar and Savithri Bai Phule were garlanded. The meeting was presided over by Jhansi Geddam Convener, DSS and the other dignitaries on the dais were Bojja Tharakam, Senior Advocate, High Court, Elisha, Director, National Commission for Scheduled caste, Prof. Sunitha Rani of Central University, Korivi Vinay Kumar DBF and K Suresh. Jhansi in her presidential address has detailed about the work done by DSS for the past one year, briefed about the developments in the Public Hearing held on the previous day and the objective of the general body.
Bojja Tharakam in his inaugural address recollected his childhood and said that he use to accompany his mother while she was going for daily labour. They use to go even 50 kilometres by walk in for work. Since they forcibly joined him in a school he got educated and ultimately became a famous lawyer. There is waste land remaining vacant which is more than enough to worst even if you take one acre for family. Only by possessing land will get self respect. If not we will have to depend on the dominant communities, remain as bonded labourers and we will be forced to starve even if we don t get work for a day. We also need to get our children educated. The government will bring policies against us, the officers and the police will not help us. The government officers are meant to serve us but they never come for our rescue when any injustice is being done to us. We are very skilful and daring. The dominant communities and all the government officials including the police are very timid. The police can t does anything if their guns are taken off. Therefore we all need to stand united, wage the battle courageously and achieve our rights as well as land and other entitlements. My support will be there for you always and I wish you should spread from 1200 villages to all the other villages in the state. I feel very proud of the great work being done by DSS.
Later the Annual Report was released by Elisha – Director, National Commission for Scheduled caste in the presence of Bjja Tharakam and the first copy was given to Mani Kumari the victim of gang rape.
Elisha the chief guest of the programme has said in detailed about the history starting from the discrimination in the liquor consumed by the dominant communities which was opposed in those days by Goutham Buddha and he is the one who was started Buddhism . Ambedkar having under gone all sorts of discrimination has fought against untouchability and has promoted Buddhism. DSS has spread underneath into 1200 villages and it is a great effort made by Jhansi. She has convinced both her husband and son and has steped out for the sake of this movement and that is the first step and this is enough to say that DSS has been successful. Many Acts have been formulated to curtail terrorism etc. Likewise we got the SC/ST (PoA) Act and the unique feature in it is compensation. Though there are many sections in it, section 3(2)(5) is not being applied in many occasions though the need is there. He has assured that National SC Commission shall remain with DSS in the battle for justice to dalit women.
Prof Sunitha Rani has said she was long in to see the participants since for long time as she could not make it up for the last three general bodies. She felt happy to be here among us and has said that the dalit women have already achieved empowerment. We are very skilful and very powerful. We do lots of work such as domestic work, groom our children as well as go for work to earn livelihood, likewise we also have many problems. One of the main reasons for our backwardness is lack of education therefore let us educate our children.
Later Korivi Vinay Kumar and Korrapati Suresh have also address the gathering. Later the Convener along with the team and state women collective have read out the declaration and pledged to achieve the goal.
To strengthen further the women collectives and mainstream them by ensuring their presence in the statutory bodies
On the eve of 100th year of International Women’s Day a week long celebrations starting from 1st to 8th March on the theme” QUALITATIVE CHILD HOOD TO DALIT GIRL CHILD”
To formulate strategies to overcome the gaps of intra and inter community violence and strengthen the task force team.
To capacitate the dalit women and enable them to access the entitlements and emphasizing much on NREGS.
To bring out good models in anganwadi centers, govt. Schools and social welfare hostels through more effective monitoring.
Advocacy and lobby and intensify the legal battle.
To build pressure on the government for pro dalit women and girl child policies.