Sunday, May 15, 2011

Caste update


Some previous blog entries related to caste:
Misc update (caste) - Mar 26th, 2011
Misc update (caste) - Jan 20th, 2011
Education emancipates? - Jun 26th, 2010
Misc update (caste) - Aug 29, 2009
Updates - #3 - Aug 25th, 2008
Frame of Reference - June 27th 2008
Caste - May 26th 2008

Recently the Indian Supreme Court came out very strongly against the caste system, denouncing it as a "scourge on the nation."

"La plus haute cour de justice indienne vient d’interdire les “khap panchâyats“. Elle veut “éradiquer“ ces conseils de castes qui font la loi dans les zones rurales, condamnant parfois à mort les époux de mariages jugés impropres.

La Cour suprême est partie en guerre contre le système de caste qui prévaut toujours dans la société indienne malgré son interdiction. Les mots sont hardis et virulents. “Le système de caste est un fléau pour la nation, plus tôt on le détruira mieux ce sera.“


Bastions de cette hiérarchie héréditaire qui structure le pays, les khap panchâyats sont inconstitutionnels depuis mardi 19 avril. Ces conseils de castes ultraconservateurs, présents essentiellement dans le nord de l’Inde, régissent la société rurale. Défenseurs de l’ordre moral ils imposent à leur communauté des règles archaïques et patriarchales, livrant à l’opprobre général tout membre qui s’y opposerait.

Des meurtres commis sur ordre des khap panchâyats

Les khap panchâyats ne reconnaissant notamment pas l’Hindu Marriage Act qui autorise les unions libres en Inde. Dans leur tradition les mariages inter-castes comme les mariages dits incestueux, c’est-à-dire entre deux personnes d’un même village (gothra), sont passibles de lynchages, de meurtres ou d’exils forcés.

De nombreux cas de condamnation à mort pour crime d’honneurs ont ainsi fait l’actualité ces dernières années. Dimanche 17 avril, deux veuves ont été tabassées à mort dans un village de l’Haryana par un homme, le neveu d’une des victimes, qui les accusait d’être lesbiennes. Personne n’est intervenu pour venir en aide aux deux femmes.

Les États appelés à mener la lutte contre les crimes d’honneur

Dans son jugement la Cour suprême a rappelé que la démocratie indienne autorise tout citoyen “à se marier avec qui il le souhaite“. La plus haute juridiction indienne a même encouragé les mariages inter-castes, affirmant qu’ils servaient “l’intérêt national, dans la mesure où ils participent à mettre fin au système de caste“.

Les juges Markandeya Katju et Gyan Sudha Mishra ont dénoncé les crimes d’honneurs comme étant “des meurtres barbares et honteux“. Pour mettre fin à ces pratiques, la cour a exhorté les gouvernements des États à suspendre les magistrats et les officiers de polices qui ne prendraient pas promptement des mesures contre les khap panchâyats."

Or:

The highest court in India just banned "Khap Panchayats'. It wants to "eradicate" these caste councils which make the law in rural areas, sometimes condemning to death spouses in marriages that are deemed unfit.

The Supreme Court has gone to war against the caste system, which is still prevalent in Indian society despite its prohibition. Their words are bold and vocal: "The caste system is a curse on the nation, and the sooner that it is destroyed the better."

Bastions of the hierarchy hereditary structure in the country, khap panchayats have been deemed unconstitutional since Tuesday, April 19. These ultraconservative caste councils, present mainly in northern India, govern much of rural society. Defenders of the moral order they impose on their community patriarchal and archaic rules, subjecting to general opprobrium any member who would attempt to oppose them.

Murders committed on the order of khap panchayats

Notably the khap panchayats do not recognize the Hindu Marriage Act, which authorizes free unions in India. In their tradition, inter-caste marriages just like incestuous marriages (that is to say between two persons of the same village, gothra) are subject to lynchings, murders or forced exile.

Many cases of death sentence for the crime of honor killings have made the news in recent years. On Sunday, April 17, two widows were beaten to death in a village in Haryana by a man, the nephew of one of the victims, accused of being lesbians. Nobody intervened to help the two women.

States called to lead the fight against honor crimes

In its ruling the Supreme Court reiterated that India's democracy allows any citizen "to marry whomever they want." The highest court of India even encouraged inter-caste marriages, saying they served the "national interest, insofar as they contribute to end the caste system."

Judges Markandeya Katju Gyan Sudha Mishra condemned honor killings as "barbaric and shameful murder." To end these practices, the court urged state governments to suspend judges and police officers who would not take prompt action against khap panchayats.



A recent letter writing campaign by the Asian Human Rights Council focused attention on a recent example of caste-based discrimination. 'Caste-based discrimination and corruption pushing 83 families to death in Orissa' detailed the sorry story:

"... On August 28, 2010, the upper caste priest of a local Hindu temple and one Mr. Karunakar Bhoi, who is also from the upper caste, denied three women from the Bauri community of Ranapada village from entering the temple. When Karunakar saw the three women trying to enter the temple, he abused them by referring to their caste and suggesting their 'low origin' and said:
"who gives you this right to enter the temple?." The women asked back: "Why are you behaving like this, are we not human beings or Hindus?" The priest and the other upper caste, who were at the temple, refused the women entry to the temple, and charged a penalty of Rs. 50,000 (USD 1,110) on the women.

The women were forced to admit that they would pay the penalty, under threat. The following day, the women filed a complaint regarding the incident at the local police station. The complaint was registered as a case, with no. 160(36) against Karunakar Bhoi for offenses punishable under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 under Sections 294, 323, 341 and 806 of the Code. On September 8, non-Dalit villagers, mostly from the upper caste, from 54 neighboring villages held a meeting near the temple where the women were denied entry and went to the Ranapada village with the plan for attack the Dalits. They shouted at the Dalit villagers and threatened to kill them. Mr. Dwijaraj Pradhan allegedly threatened in the public that: "Today we will beat up all the Dalits. All Dalits should come out of the houses, we will kill you otherwise." ..."

See the rest of the story here. A tale that, sadly, is all too common an occurrence...

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