Intersectionalities of Caste and Gender
The strikingly brought to light the intersectionality of women’s movements was the one conducted by National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR). Formed with the agenda of bringing to light caste based violence in the wake of the government being dismissive of the same, NCDHR, over the time, also found itself involved in advisory work because of resistance from the government. They then collaborated with other human rights groups. After this brief introduction by Abhay Xaxa, Dyuti, one of the researchers at NCDHR, started the discussion by simply (yet powerfully) asking the audience what caste is according to them. And from there, with the help of PowerPoint slides, she expanded to how we are always taught to believe that caste is a simple hierarchisation and most of us grow up believing that farce.
After Dyuti, Nidhin Shobhana explained how there is an aspect of the division of occupation and as one keeps going down the hierarchy, the option of ‘choosing’ an occupation for oneself also sees a decreasing trend. He then explained how marriages in most Indian cultures are supposed to be within the same sub-caste and caste but outside the gotra (that is, ‘exogamy superimposed by endogamy’). And from there, he connected how marriages are a way to control women’s sexuality, which in turn ensures sustenance and reproduction of further caste systems.
A documentary titled, “I’m Dalit, how are you?” was then screened , highlighting the state of Dalit women, children and men and how they are made to indulge in manual scavenging even till today , despite it being abolished in 1993. The documentary also highlighted how Dalit women are ‘Dalits within Dalits.’
Nidhin Shobhana then talked about the startling statistics representing the access of Dalits to higher education and highlighted how there was a mass capturing of vacant posts in most institutions by the Savarnas, post-independence. He then moved on to discuss the intersectionality and inclusivity of anti-caste movements and activists. Saying “even if we are not affected by caste, we are all beneficiaries of the anti-caste movements,” he reflected on how public utilities are ‘public’ because of anti-caste movements. He explained how Horizontalism, a very significant social relationship, is in opposition to vertical hierarchies and people from different social movements interact; stating the recent #OccupyUGC movement as an example.
It is significant to identify the importance of giving voice to organisations like these through sessions and stalls during events like the Gender Mela in a society where patriarchal systems affect people in more ways than one. It ensures that there is an attack on these very systems from all levels of oppression which in turn leads to a more intersectional, unified and strengthened fight.