Today I attended a conference on the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act...I know its a mouthful. This act is suppose to help prevent atrocities against the Dalits and Tribals, but the Act is almost never implemented properly. In fact every year the amount of atrocities registered against Dalits and Tribals in increasing by three percent.
Four acts of atrocities are occurring every fifteen minutes in India.
These acts include crimes such as battery, rape, murder, sexual abuse, etc.
After twenty years of existence the bill has not done much to help end violent crimes against these discriminated groups. At the conference activists and organizations who deal with these crimes shared there experiences and talked about the amendments that have been suggested for the bill. There were three panels on various aspects of the bill, the need for witness and victim protection, and the current climate of the local authorities in regards to this ongoing issue. Each panel was followed by discussion. The conference was almost entirely in Gujarati but thankfully I had Manjula next to me translating so I could follow along.
Tomorrow the organizations will come together to create a plan of action for the next year, of how they are going to start addressing these atrocities...trying to come up with creative new ways to insure that the bill is properly implemented and that justice is serve. They want to create a mass movement so people will start demanding the government keeps good on its work and fulfills its role as enforcer of the rule of law.
It was inspiring seeing all of these organizations come together, there was so much fire and passion in the activists. They have a lot of fight left in them despite being up against seemingly unbeatable odds. The experiences they shared and the case reports they retold were both shocking and heart wrenching, but their unwillingness to back down inspired me.
Yesterday, I wrote about questioning the quality of man especially after being faced with the horrendous evils men can inflict on one another. But today I realized that those same acts can and often do create individuals with the best qualities of man.
For in each of the cases discussed today there was definitely always a person who had committed some unsightly act, but then there was also always a person fight to right that wrong.
Justice may not always have been served... but these people stood up with courage and empathy for the rights of their fellow man and raged hard with all the strength in their heart to make a difference.
And I think just by their seer presence they have made a difference.,.they have shown this community of traditionally outcaste people that they are not alone, that they matter, and that there are people who care about them, and are willing to stand and fight with them for their rights.
It was a long day, but I feel inspired after it.
I feel as though my faith in the potential of people is better then ever.
The fire in an activist is bright enough to light even the darkest of corners and bold enough to set the world a flame.