13-year-old girl beheaded with a sickle for refusing to have sex with 'higher caste' neighbor
Activists claim that a large number of crimes against women from the lower castes fo unreported, with only 5-8% of total crimes registered.
A 13-year-old girl from a lower caste was beheaded in a village in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. The girl was reportedly beheaded for refusing the sexual advances of her neighbor, who belonged to a 'higher caste', reports say. According to TV18, the accused, Dinesh Kumar, beheaded the young girl with a sickle in a small village near Attur in the Salem district of Tamil Nadu after she repeatedly rejected his advances. The girl was studying at a nearby school and had reportedly told her mum about Kumar's continuous sexual advances.
According to CNN, the police have charged Kumar under the act that criminalizes caste-based violence and hate crime, a law that has existed in India since 1989. Police have also dismissed suggestions that he was suffering from mental health problems when he slaughtered the youngster.
Ponkarthik Kumar, a senior police official in the district, told CNN: "The girl was brutally murdered. The investigation is ongoing and the accused has been arrested."
Concerns about caste-based violence in India are growing after a 13-year-old girl from a lower caste was beheaded in one of the country's southern states last week, with her alleged assailant coming from a higher, majority caste, according to police … pic.twitter.com/sVRN3m9irj— Badr Alsiri (@b2d9r) November 2, 2018
The girl reportedly belonged to the Dalit caste, one of the most marginalized groups in India's complicated caste system. Dalits were once called the 'untouchables'and were entirely outside the four-tier 'Varna' class system of the country. When India adopted its constitution in 1952, untouchability as a practice was abolished under Article 17 of the constitution. But in spite of numerous laws and court rulings over the years that have tried to provide a level playing field, deep-rooted bias has repeatedly hampered progress in the country.
Radhika Ganesh, a political activist who has been campaigning for Dalit rights told CNN: "Why does the establishment not show that strength? Such incidents are constantly happening. When we are pushing for advocacy, the political will must be questioned, or the lack of political will must be questioned."
"The reason behind the violence is the high level of politicization of caste-based politics. Because of that, there is extensive abuse of political power. Caste is an open sort of practice accepted in Tamil Nadu. Everyone is silent about it and the silence is tantamount to creating the violence around it."
Jayna Kothari, executive director at the Centre of Law and Policy Research, added that crimes against women under the act are under-reported in official Tamil Nadu statistics, which account for only 5-8% of total crimes against members of lower castes.