The Systematic Silencing of Dalit Women: Reinforcement of Gender and Caste Hierarchies

By: Karina Nathani Harwani

India’s caste system along with its on-going issue with gender discrimination, makes Dalit women, the bottom of three prevalent hierarchical frameworks; gender, caste and class. Thus, resulting in their systematic oppression and violation of human rights.

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The story of Parwana, an Afghan girl sold to feed her family

The networks have been filled with messages and claims commenting on a CNN report telling the story of Parwana Malik, an Afghan girl who at only nine years old has been sold by her own family to a 55-year-old man who promises to “take care of her as another member of the family.”

Parwana paints her lips, combs her hair, dresses herself and leaves the house accompanied by a man 46 years her senior. Her father has sold her to a man who has put a price on the girl of about 1,900 euros in the form of sheep, land and cash. What would have been Parwana’s future if she had been born a boy, and if she had been born a few kilometers further west? Is she the only girl in this situation? Unfortunately not.

The little girl is one more in this web of structural violence against women around the world. Poverty and precariousness after the return of the Taliban era in Afghanistan has made this group live in greater fear than usual and with a worrying limitation of fundamental rights. The spanish newspaper ABC published a few months ago the 29 restrictions faced by Afghan women under the Taliban government, including human rights violations such as the right to freedom of movement, the right to equality before the law and the right to political participation, among others.

The international blockade and the restrictive measures of this new Afghan “government” have brought ruin to many families who previously enjoyed a humble and relatively comfortable life. As the story tells, Parwana’s family has absolutely nothing to feed themselves and selling her nine-year-old daughter is the only way to provide for the next few months and feed the other eight members of the family.

According to the digital spanish diary called ElPeriódico, this is not the first time that this family has been forced to take this drastic measure, as some time ago they had to sell Parwana’s older sister for the same reason. Even though the video is heartbreaking and you are forced to think that it is a one-time misfortune, this practice is common among families suffering from total poverty and who see the marriage market as their only hope of survival.

Around the world, organizations such as UNICEF are working to ensure that this situation has no place in any territory. In addition, according to data provided in a study conducted by the entity, it dares to say that probably 10,000,000 girls will become child brides in the future, as 12,000,000 already do so every year.

From the comfort of our homes we have the privilege of commenting by twitter how bad we find this situation while feeling safe and grateful to have been born in another part of the world. A video that lasts two minutes but tells a complete story and that we can’t forget by scrolling down the screen to read the following tweet. Let’s raise our voices, denounce this situation and urge international leaders to treat this as a serious, worrying and daily problem that needs to be stopped.

Author: Cristina Sanchis



October 31st is World Cities Day and UN Women has released a report on the global performance of cities and safe spaces for this part of the population. Building comfortable and stable places for women and girls is one of the main objectives of the organization and that is why this report provides the necessary information to approach this utopian goal.

Around the world, women and girls face sexual harassment and violence in public spaces. In many cities, a large majority of women and girls have experienced some form of abuse, ranging from indecent touching and comments
ranging from unwanted comments and touching to rape and gender-based killings.

Download the PDF report to read all the information.

Source: UN women// Adaptation: Cristina Sanchis

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