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Intersectionality

  • IASbaba
  • June 5, 2021
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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SOCIETY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-1: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  • GS-2: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections. 

Intersectionality

Context: Patan Jamal Vali v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2021 – Case was about sexual assault on a blind 22-year-old Dalit woman. 

  • The trial court and the High Court had convicted the accused for rape under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and under Section 3(2)(v) of the PoA Act, and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
  • Supreme Court confirmed the conviction and the punishment for rape under the IPC but set aside the conviction under the PoA Act

Concept of Intersectionality

  • When the identity of a woman intersects with her caste, class, religion, disability and sexual orientation, she may face violence and discrimination due to two or more grounds. 
  • It understood that multiple sources of oppression operated cumulatively to produce a specific experience of subordination for the blind Dalit woman (Patan Jamal Vali v. State of AP)

Issues

  1. Despite recognising the intersectional theory in Patan Jamal Vali v. State of AP, the court set aside conviction under the PoA Act.
  2. In cases of sexual violence against Dalit and Adivasi women, courts have almost consistently set aside convictions under the PoA Act.
    • Ramdas and Others v. State of Maharashtr (2006)
    • Dinesh Alias Buddha v. State of Rajasthan (2006)
    • Asharfi v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2017)
    • Khuman Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2019)

In all these judgments, the court held that there was no evidence to show that the accused committed sexual assault on the ground that the victim was member of an SC/ST community. 

  1. The repeated setting aside of convictions under the PoA Act bolsters the allegations that the law is misused and amounts to the erasure of caste-based violence faced by women
    • In the recent Parliamentary Standing Committee Report on Atrocities and Crimes against Women and Children, the “high acquittal rate motivates and boosts the confidence of dominant and powerful communities for continued perpetration”.

Conclusion

We need to stop hiding behind smokescreens of hyper-technicality of evidence and recognise caste-based violence against women when it stares us in the face. Else, our caste discrimination laws will be rendered toothless.

Connecting the dots:

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