Real Daughters of India

 

Daisy Katta

An interview with Dr. Sujata Vishwasrao Athawale, Professor and Dalit Activist, Amravati, Vidarbha, Maharashtra. 

Dr. Sujata Vishwasrao Athawale is a Dalit women's rights activist who has been working with rural Vidarbha's Dalit, Adivasi, Nomadic and Denotified Tribal and Muslim women for the last two decades. On the occasion of International Woman's Day, Dr. Sujata Athawale propounded that Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim, Nomadic and Denotified tribal women are the real daughters of India but their social conditions are very critical and this is an issue which needs special attention.

dr sujata athawale

Dr. Athawale runs an NGO called Urja in Amravati and has also established Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Education Society which works towards educating marginalised women.

Q. How are the conditions of Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim, Nomadic and Denotified Tribal women in India?

Sujata AthawaleThe situations of these women are extremely critical because even now these women are struggling. They do not get paid despite the painstaking labour they do. They are still under the vicious circle of money lenders. They are still struggling for their basic needs. For these Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim, Nomadic and Denotified Tribal women education is still a distant dream.

Q. What kind of problems, if you could please elaborate?

SA. Say for example, if these women want to fill water from the village well, even such a task is impossible for them. Their problems are myriad and complicated in nature.

Q. What is the position of Dalit, Muslim and Nomadic and Tribal women in today's political and social scenario?

SA. The existence/represenation of these women is negligible. They have been used merely as tools in the rural politics and they cannot exercise their rights. They have been reduced to mere scapegoats by the establishment.

Q. What are your views on the atrocity of Khairlanji?

SA. The atrocity in Khairlanji is a stern reminder of the burgeoning mentality of the upper caste men. Even the Upper caste women did not find it necessary to recognize the grave atrocities of Khairlanji as a humanitarian issue. There is a certain kind of false humanity which is been propagated through this issue by upper castes/feminist people.

Q. What are the conditions of the women of the families where the farmers have committed suicide in the Vidarbha region?

SA. There should be a sociological study of the women who have been affected by the farmer suicides. In the entire Vidarbha region, the social, economic and cultural level of the women has deteriorated. The customs and the traditions followed in the Hindu religion are against these women.

Q. You have been working on a book on the Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim, Nomadic and Denotified tribal women since two decades. Could you please tell us about the book?

SA. Yes, I am writing a book. Due to the isuses of caste, the exploitation of women has spiralled. They still have to struggle for basic needs, the Hindu customs and traditions have gone against them; I am studying their lives from an Ambedakarite feminist perspective. This book will bring forth the unheard voices of maginalised women. I hope it will open a new space for discourse.

Q. What is your opinion about the documentary called 'India's Daughter'?

SA. I condemn the government for banning the documentary. Through this documentary, they have portrayed the realistic situation of the Indian women. Nirbhaya is not alone. She is a representative of women from all castes. If we want to understand the problems of the Indian women, we first need to understand the problems of the Dalit, Adivasi and the tribal women. We need to bring out the kind of cruelty and exploitation these women have gone through because of theocracy and colonisation, most importantly under the Hindu caste system.

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Daisy Katta is a mass media graduate from Mumbai and is currently working at Tata Institute of Social Sciences as Research Investigator.