India is a secular democracy. It grants its citizens the right to equality, the right to freedom, the right against exploitation, the right to freedom of religion along with other cultural and educational rights and constitutional remedies. You might think, what are people complaining about? Discrimination doesn’t exist anymore. It’s a chapter in our past! Well, my dear friend, chances are if you think that you’re an upper-caste, cisgender heterosexual member of the patriarchy who doesn’t have to fear for their life every step of the way. Those who are excluded from this narrative, live in a state of panic.
Would it bother you if I told you that the very things you take for granted are signs of acute privilege? If you can do these 11 things without getting killed, then congratulations! You are a privileged member of society:
1. You can fashion a moustache and post cool pictures on social media.
A healthcare worker belonging to the Scheduled Caste community in Rajasthan’s Pali district was killed by two upper-caste men because they could not tolerate his moustache and good lifestyle after getting a government job. The victim had uploaded some pictures of himself flaunting his moustache on social media. In Rajasthan, moustaches are seen as a symbol of pride and his pictures offended the upper caste community.
2. You can wear jeans.
A 17-year-old teenage girl was savagely thrashed with sticks by her grandfather and uncles after she defended her choice of outfit, jeans, to a religious family gathering. The girl retorted that jeans were made to be worn and that she could wear them. Later her body was found hanging from a bridge over the local river.
3. You can claim your retirement benefits and enjoy in bliss.
A 90-year-old woman was taken to a farm by a 33-year-old man and raped multiple times in Delhi’s Chhawla village area.
4. You can own a horse.
A young farmer from the Dalit community was beaten to death for owning and riding a horse. The victim’s father said his son had been warned not to ride the horse as this was an upper-caste privilege. Owning a horse is seen as a symbol of power and wealth in parts of India.
5. You can relish a hearty meal at a wedding.
A 45-year-old Dalit man was beaten to death in the Champawat district of Uttarakhand by the upper caste community after he was found having food at a wedding along with everyone, and not separately – in violation of the casteist norms prevalent in the region. The victim’s family alleged that the man was physically tortured for several hours before he succumbed to his injuries.
6. You can love.
7. You can worship in a temple.
A 17-year-old Dalit boy was killed by upper caste members of his village in Amroha district of Uttar Pradesh because he prayed at the local temple.
8. You can unapologetically be your best self without needing to conceal your sexuality.
A 19-year-old boy committed suicide in Chennai after he was bullied for being homosexual. “Everyone knows I am a boy. But the way I walk, think and talk is like a girl. People in India do not like that. Please do not blame my family. Help them. We are poor. I love my mom, dad and sister. I thank them for supporting me. It is not my fault that I was born gay,” his Facebook post read.
9. You can say ‘no.’
A 21-year-old woman was stabbed to death by her former schoolmate in Kerala’s Malappuram district as an act of apparent revenge for declining his proposal for a romantic relationship. The accused also stabbed the deceased’s 13-year-old younger sister and injured her grievously.
10. You can raise your child.
A six-month-old baby girl, who was sleeping next to her parents on a street, was taken away, raped and murdered by her uncle in Madhya Pradesh. The infant’s body was found in a basement with injury marks on her private parts and head.
11. You can seek justice for injustice.
The Dalit community is the lowest Indian caste and men from dominant castes often weaponize sexual violence to reinforce caste and gender hierarchies. Perpetrators rely on a culture of impunity that allows them to go unpunished, and families of victims often struggle to access justice as a result.
Only 10% of cases reviewed in the report were closed with a successful conviction and they tended to be especially gruesome cases, involving murder or children under the age of six. Perpetrators of the crimes also frequently acted in groups and often carried out brutal attacks that included gang rape and murder.
The next time you’re whining about “discrimination is a myth/feminism is stupid/ban reservation,” acknowledge your privilege.