THEME 2: SEXUAL VIOLENCE & HARASSMENT IS A WAY TO DENY ACCESS AND AGENCY TO DALIT WOMEN
CASE STUDY: COVID LOCKDOWN, POLICING, & DALIT MOBILITY
Manju (name changed)
Date of incident: April 2020
Age of the survivor: 40
Manju’s son had been in jail for two years due to an unrelated case. Manju had wanted to meet her son in jail and take some home cooked food, she had been unable to do so for a while due to the COVID-19 lockdown. .
The jail was in the nearby district and she walked to the jail as she did not find any transport, met her son the next day and then returned home. On the way back, the villagers from her village, Batoda, stopped her and gave her food and informed the police station that a woman had returned from Dausa and they were afraid that she had contracted COVID. The police team came and took all necessary details from Manju. They told her that she should stay the night at the government school that was empty and that she could return home in the morning after a check-up.
Manju stayed in the school and soon fell asleep. Inthe middle of the night, three people came and covered her mouth with her saree. They tied her legs and took turns to rape her. The lights were on in the school and Manju saw their faces and recognized them. She reached the police station in the morning and narrated the incident. They asked her to wait till 10 am for her complaint to be filed. However, she was forced to wait for many hours and her complaint was filed only at around 2.15 pm . After that she was taken home and told that her medical check up would be done the next day.
The next day in the morning, Manju was taken to the hospital for medical check up and COVID testing. She was found to be COVIDpositive and the medical check-up confirmed rape. The accused persons were arrested promptly by the police.
The situation was clearly exacerbated by the pandemic and lockdown. Owing to the pressure from civil society activists, compensation of Rs. 50,000 was paid to the survivor. The head constable on duty that night was also suspended for failing to provide security to the survivor after asking her to stay in the empty school.