Sunday, December 3, 2023

‘Me’ in #MetooIndia: Anti-caste feminist statement on Metoo movement of India

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Anti-caste feminist statement on Metoo movement of India from Dalit Women Fight , an active anti-caste collaboration towards dismantling oppressive structures that have historically dispossessed Dalit community in India

We are in solidarity with all survivors of sexual violence. We affirm that each one of them have a right to be heard, to be believed, to access justice and to live life with dignity.

We unequivocally condemn anti-survivor statements made by people across communities. We also call out the complicity of those that remain silent at this time.

As Dalit women, we write this statement at a difficult and a perplexing time. We have been wondering about the ‘me’ in #metooindia and have not been able to locate ourselves in this current framework. Our points of assertion in dealing with violence of various forms have always been based on our collective consciousness. A caste-stratified society has for long denuded our person-hood and often considered our lives as mere data or a story. We remain unnamed and our struggles unnoticed.

Through this statement we want to reiterate that we cannot even begin to imagine a gender just world in a society that is ridden by caste divisions.

The perpetrators that have been outed thus far in #MeToo are primarily of dominant caste backgrounds; their positions in the institutions have been fueled by caste power. This understanding is crucial in every act of resistance against structural oppression.

As Dalit women we have for long resisted our perpetrators, which include dominant caste men, mixed caste men, men from our own castes and dominant caste women. The approaches to our battles have been varied but our language has always been one that seeks collective transformation. As anti-caste feminists we aim to dismantle caste and envision a world that strives for gender equity alongside.

To those that may reprimand us for speaking of gender justice before the battle against caste is won, we say that structural violence cannot be separated; neither for analysis nor for action. The inter-sectional impact of caste and gender is manifold and the appropriate response multi-pronged. Always.

To all those who have bravely spoken up about sexual violence and harassment in this #metooIndia, we say that the way to your own liberation lies in the dismantling of caste powers that you have benefited from. Caste patriarchy is a friend of nobody.

We believe strongly that without unraveling the intersections of caste and patriarchy, no particular #metoo moment will have any meaning in the lives of Dalit women.

Dismantling institutions that reek of patriarchy and caste is a long haul for anti-caste feminism and all women – from the margins to the center, from the poorest to the most empowered. We all will get to live in a better world if that’s done.

Jai Bhim

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