"This has happened before, this will happen again."
The brutal gangrape and death of a 20-year-old Dalit girl in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, has left the country shocked. The woman was gang-raped two weeks ago, following which she was admitted to the AMU's Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital. She passed away on Tuesday.
However, in a shocking turn of events which has led to a nationwide outrage, the victim's body was forcefully cremated by the police and district administration of Hathras around 3am on Wednesday, allegedly against the wishes of the family.
The Hathras rape is not just an instance of gender-based violence - it is also a case of caste-based gender violence inflicted by the upper castes against women. That is why anti-caste and Dalit activists have been urging people to use the victim's name while protesting, in order to highlight her caste activity.
Amid the thousands of posts of outrage, of despair and condolences and cries for justice, one voice stands out - that of poet Meena Kandasamy's. For the unaware, Kandasamy is an Indian poet, activist and fiction writer; she has also always been vocal about Dalit issues and the fight against caste.
In a poem titled, 'Rape Nation', Kandasamy narrates the gruesome details of the Hathras rape and talks about how this is not the first time such an incident has happened, and it won't be the last. She writes,
"In Hathras, cops barricade a raped woman’s home,
hijack her corpse, set it afire on a murderous night,
deaf to her mother’s howling pain. In a land where
Dalits cannot rule, they cannot rage, or even mourn.
This has happened before, this will happen again."
The poem goes on,
"Sanatana, the only law of the land that’s in force,
Sanatana, where nothing, nothing ever will change.
Always, always a victim-blaming slut-template,
a rapist-shielding police-state, a caste-denying fourth estate."
You can read her full poem here:
With almost 1,000 retweets, the poem has gone viral on social media.
If you want to "make change" on social media, change the narrative. Amplify Dalit voices and their rightful fury and sadness, not graphic violence. Pierce the filter bubble for their sake; these platforms are weaponised against marginalised voices, let them be heard. https://t.co/1hJEAU4ruv — PRM, PhD (@praymurray) September 30, 2020
"This will happen again" - it's scary. I'm tired of plain hashtags - I bet you a huge percentage of those participate in these "trending" activities don't really care. We want justice. https://t.co/SLW5FQT7n0 — Lucky (@Lucky_entp) September 30, 2020
India is one of the only countries in the world with such high rates of caste-based violence. As per data, over four Dalit women are raped every day in India. Violence against Dalits and other scheduled caste women is part of a pattern of caste-based discrimination and oppression that is prevalent in large parts of India.