Manisha Mashaal & Rajni Mishaal
These are uncertain times where many in the marginalized communities all over India are feeling anxious with the rise of atrocities and Brahminism in the country. Of all the people who are facing the brunt of these attacks, I speak as a Maha Dalit woman and can say our women are bearing the brunt of the violence and we must now find a way to lead our people away from it.
In this time, when many in leadership positions are failing us, those of us who are on the front lines say enough is enough. We are the Maha Dalit Women’s movement and we are here to change everything.
In Haryana where I am from this includes educated young girls, minor girls, and survivors of all ages who have now become leaders. We gave birth to this movement because no one else would center our experiences. This movement is lead by Maha Dalit women and we work with women from all marginalized backgrounds but we will not be erased anymore. Whether by government institutions or by brahminical patriarchy we are seizing our time and will not be ignored.
This month we plan to launch our movement with a Haryana yatra that will raise our voices on the issues of caste, rape, violence, discrimination, Maha Dalit, transgender, Adivasi, and Muslim rights in Haryana.
Most importantly, we will be providing a platform for the leadership of girls and women. However, while our march welcomes all women from all Dalit settlements our leadership is Maha Dalit women. For our women don’t even live in Dalit settlements we live outside the outcasts.
We are the daughters of the homeless who make huts from the waste of India’s shining cities. And yet few know the names of our castes except only as a slur. But we are Valmikis, Banghis, Pakkis, Musahars, and Sikkaliars. And we are more than our caste profession we are the heart of all Dalit movements.
That is why we must have a voice.
By breaking the boundaries of caste inside and outside of our communities we will take our stories and our voices through every street, every village, school, college, university, and household, and will provide a platform of equality for everyone.
Under the leadership of Maha Dalit women, we hope Dalit movements can flourish from Haryana to open a new chapter of resistance and equality in Haryana.
We want to inspire a new way for people to think about how to live. Haryana is currently number one in terms of crimes against women. We are sick of this violence. Imagine if Haryana could instead be the foundation of change, respect, and dignity for all women. This is our battle now.
How can we talk about developing Haryana, when not a single Maha Dalit woman has been consulted in what we want for our state? Who is this development for? Is the plan for Maha Dalit women to live on the outskirts of the future?
NO. We will not have it.
We believe our stories are the key to resistance. When we center our pain and our resilience we believe our existence holds the key to creating a real future for the state, not just empty promises for the elite.
Our first concern is the epidemic of caste-based sexual violence which has been going on with us for too long a time. In many places, Khap Panchayats surveil and torment our Maha Dalits and Dalit girls. These disgusting groups of dominant caste men sit around the center of the village playing cards and harass the girls verbally. Worse, If a girl comes late or if she is alone, then she is likely to be abused and even raped with the consent of the Khap Panchayat or even by the members themselves.
We call out this terrible form of moral caste and gender policing and ask for Khap Panchayat structures to be abolished.
Our next concern is the violent political parties who push toxic dangerous narratives supporting the rise of Brahmanism. Political parties think that if our party is in power, then we can treat people in any manner we want, we can control them in whatever we want, we can behave cruelly and no one can say anything or no one can touch us. This is impunity and sees its Saffron colors everywhere.
In our work, we are particularly alarmed that since January 2018 we have seen an escalation of rapes and murders with young girls all over Haryana. These perpetrators often associated with a political party. And while these perpetrators publicly form committees of supporters and give promises of development, in reality, they are creating a foundational rape culture. They prevent movements like ours to support survivors and instead defend the culprits.
Additionally, we are seeing a rise of Maha Dalits and Dalit women who are getting abused and raped at Brahminical institutions such as Hindu temples and associations. Caste Hindus people believe that sins get washed away at a temple.
This is the biggest joke for us. Because the Hindu temple continues to be the source of biggest violence towards our people. We remember that Babasaheb said, “There is nothing that is going to change for us by going to a temple! It is only the place where Brahmins earns. Where we give away our money.” We feel this truth deeply as we support these survivors. That is why We young Maha Dalits and Dalits, will take all initiatives to uproot whatever type of blind faith propaganda our people are filled with by Brahminism and we will resist it with all of our might.
For here in Haryana, you can’t predict when the trouble can come. Our battlegrounds are villages, buses, trains, schools, fields, even the street. From Mirchpur to Rohtak our villages are stained with the blood of our people and screams of our women. And even when survivors speak out the pressure by cops and panchayats to take a settlement or compromise with the perpetrators is high. They say, “Otherwise there will be no respect (ijjat kharaab ho jayegi) for you.” And then they ask for a meager apology from the offender.
For this is the truth it is better to be a Cow than its to be a Maha Dalit women. Cows are safe in Haryana, they even have a helpline and an N number of rapid protectors willing to kill in the streets to keep them safe.
But for us, there is nothing. This is the real status of development in Haryana. So as Maha Dalit Women are standing on our Constitutional rights for dignity and self-respect and we fight not just for ourselves but we are fighting now for the Constitution itself!
So now given the present situation, the Maha Dalit Women’s Andolan is starting up in Haryana. And trust us when we say we need all of you. We have to come together now to protect innocents from death, to fight for our respect and justice socially and economically where women of Maha Dalits, Dalit, Muslims, and Adivasis are getting raped and abused. This movement is a battle for justice for all of us and we need all movements to end caste to stand with us!
In the end, we ask for your solidarity and support in this movement. We are learning and we hope to learn with you. Together we can create a future of power and dignity not just for Maha Dalit women but for all oppressed peoples in India.
Jai Bhim Jai Savitri!