The Gender Beat: 7 Held for Raping Dalit Girl; Report Reveals Exploitation of Women Workers in Shoe Industry

A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality

In this 2013 file photo, people shop inside a shoe store on a street in Mumbai. Credit: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui

In this 2013 file photo, people shop inside a shoe store on a street in Mumbai. Credit: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui


Jodhpur: Minor Dalit alleges rape

A minor dalit girl was abducted from her village near Bhopalgarh in Rajasthan, and allegedly raped by a group of men, reports the Indian Express. She says she was subsequently assaulted by police officers at the Bhopalgarh police station, who beat her up, threatened her if she speaks up against the perpetrators, and forced her to sign on blank sheets of paper.

Harendra Kumar, the superintendent of police for Jodhpur (rural) is denying charges of police brutality.

A few days ago, a 17-year-old dalit girl’s body was found in the water tank of her college in Bikaner. The girl had told her father the previous evening that she was sent to clean physical trainer Vijendra Singh’s room by a warden, where she was raped by Singh. Singh has now been taken into custody. Protestors are questioning the actions of the police, who did not follow due process when the girl’s body was found.

Dalit girl raped for two months in Kerala, 7 held

Seven people have been held for repeatedly sexually assaulting a minor dalit girl in the Thiruvananthapuram rural district, according to an Indian Express report. Two of the perpetrators filmed their assault of the girl, and said they would release the video if she told anyone about the assault. Over the next two months, several people abused her. On March 31, the perpetrators attacked the girl in public. Bystanders alerted the police, who arrested the perpetrators.

Women workers exploited in India’s high end shoe industry, say campaigners

A new report released by Cividep India, and two UK-based organisations called Homeworkers Worldwide and Labour Behind the Label reveals that thousands of women homeworkers in Ambur, Tamil Nadu, who are engaged in India’s high-end shoe industry work in highly exploitative conditions for less than minimum wage.

Gopinath Parakuni, general secretary of Cividep India, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: “These women from poor and marginalised communities … are part of a clandestine production that exploits their vulnerability.”

The homeworkers in Ambur hand-stitch the uppers of expensive shoes that are later exported worldwide. The women are paid between Rs. 5 to Rs. 7 per pair, have no security or guarantee of work, and have to deal with chronic health problems as a result of the work.

The campaigners have contacted 14 companies who export these shoes for a response. They are urging these companies to “carefully map their supply chains,” said the Thomson Reuters Foundation report.

Women to get more time to complete Ph.D, M.Phil: Irani

Union Minister Smriti Irani said on Monday that women and persons with disabilities are likely to get more time to finish research degrees. Irani’s ministry has requested the University Grants Commission to relax norms so that more women may complete M.Phil and Ph.D degrees.

Irani has also said that students will be given maternity leave of 240 days, says an India Today report. At the moment, no specific provision for maternity leave has been set out for undergraduate and postgraduate students, according to this article in the New Indian Express.

More Than 2,000 Trans People Murdered Worldwide Since 2008

Transgender Europe, an advocacy network based in Berlin, has released a report saying that over 2000 transgender and gender diverse people have been killed between 2008 and 2015 in 65 countries. According to a Vocativ report, the group found that sixty-five percent of those killed were sex workers.

On March 31, an American man named James Dixon was put on trial for manslaughter and assault charges. Dixon punched 21-year-old transgender woman, Islan Nettles so hard that she suffered a serious brain injury. She died a few days later. The Washington Post reports that Dixon pleaded guilty to manslaughter and has been convicted to 12 years of imprisonment.

Dixon assaulted Nettles in New York. A Mic report says that at least 25 transgender women of colour have been murdered across the USA in the last two years.

Poland considers complete ban on abortion

The conservative ruling party in Poland, Law and Justice (PiS), wants to completely outlaw abortion in Poland. This has sparked widespread protest by thousands of people in the country.

Most abortions in Poland are already illegal, and are only allowed under exceptional circumstances. If the new legislation is passed, abortion will become illegal even in cases of rape or in case the foetus has serious health problems, said a report in the Independent.

Bishops of the Catholic church, as well as the country’s Prime Minister, and several other leaders have lent their support to the proposed ban.

Do you know of any other development or issue we should highlight in this column? Write to me at [email protected]