Invisibility of "Other" Dalits and Silence in the Law
Abstract

Abstract:

For the first time, the 2011 census of India counted a population "other" than male or female. This essay takes a cue from the census and traces the invisibility of "other" Dalits, while attempting to break the silence about them in the law through life narratives. Formerly considered "untouchable" in the deeply unequal and hierarchical caste system of India, Dalits are also known as Scheduled Castes (SC) in the legal parlance. The invisibility of "other" Dalits and the silence about them is located in an emerging legal moment in which transgender persons are compared with "untouchable" Dalits but there is no legal understanding of persons who are both transgender and Dalit. The knowledge that comes from examining overlapping vulnerabilities would help strengthen tools, instruments, and rhetoric designed to address violence, discrimination, and social disempowerment globally. More particularly, given the background from which this essay has emerged, the ongoing campaign for decriminalization of sodomy in India and the upcoming "curative petition" in the Supreme Court could be informed by the "intersectional" understanding presented in this essay. Histories of discrimination, oppression, and indignities originating in the caste system in India could be pivotal to informing the broader agenda of liberation and human rights for all.