Uttar Pradesh – extreme violence against women

Uttar Pradesh – a state in Northern India – is seeing an increasing number of extremely brutal attacks on women. In the latest case, a sixteen year-old woman was assaulted with knives and axes before being gang raped. The woman and her family are too scared to stay in their village. They have abandoned their home and land to stay with relatives. This is just one of hundreds of rapes and attempted rapes that have happened this year in Uttar Pradesh. The attacks are a tragic example of the intersection between gender, class, and poverty. Women are accorded very low status in the region. Moreover, many of those attacked are Dalits – members of India’s lowest caste, which used to be known as ‘untouchables’. An analysis of rape figures carried out by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties in Uttar Pradesh found that 90% of the victims were Dalits. Poverty makes things worse, as people are unable to afford sanitation in their homes, forcing them to go out into their fields at night to go to the toilet. Many women are attacked whilst performing their ablutions. Campaigners say that most of the rapists are people with money and political power. Roop Rekha Verma of Sajhi Duniya (Shared World), an organisation based in Lucknow that works with women says, ‘It’s a very difficult situation here… There is a lot of violence: Crimes are escalating; gender problems are increasing; girls are being attacked, both in rural and urban areas… These cases are so brutal that we wouldn’t have believed that they could happen – we thought such things could happen only in novels and films’. You can read more here.

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