Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

The photo essay Justice Delayed is Justice Denied by Helena Schätzle and Sudharak Olwe critically reflects on caste violence against Dalits in India. Although there are laws against caste-based violence, prejudice is deeply ingrained in society’s everyday life. A Dalit who experienced a violent felony and who claims his or her right faces massive counterforces which impede legal processes. The news of atrocities on Dalits moreover get little noticed in newspapers and other media. The following photo documentation creates as much visibility for a people and the invisible processes of atrocities against them as for its social consequences that are oriented toward the past. In the context of this common ground, Olwe and Schätzle remind the viewer in their photo essay of the formation of the present through the past in order to point to a better future.

In India, where caste prejudice is deeply ingrained in society, a Dalit trying to assert his or her rights is normally perceived as an attempt to swim against the tide. His or her rights and needs are considered below those of higher castes.

Be it land dispute, reservation, and participation in Panchayat Raj system, aspiring to a higher education, conflict over sharing water and natural resources, intercaste relationships or even entering temples, such issues have always led to heinous crimes against them like murders, rapes, and arson.

Caste violence against Dalits has triggered condemnation and sometimes nationwide protests. More than 144,000 cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes and 23,408 cases of atrocities against Scheduled Tribes came for trial before the judiciary in 2016, as per the last available data from the National Crime Records Bureau. Yet most cases of atrocities on Dalits never see the light of the day and the perpetrators never come to justice. The laws are made and yet not accessible to the people that need them the most. Only ten percent of cases go to trial and 25 percent of this number end in convictions.

Justice in these cases is also an agonizing wait to be recognized as rightful members of civil society. The atrocities and crimes committed in the name of caste urgently needs the attention of policy makers, members of society, the media, and most importantly the ones who uphold the law of the land.

Meghabai's husband Nanjibhai Sondharwa of the Manekvada village in the Kotda Sanghani block of Gujarat, was clubbed to death with iron pipes after he filed a Right to Information appeal to reveal the corruption of the upper-caste villagers in the village's panchayat.
Meghabai, who in the earlier attack was dragged out of the house and sexually harassed, proudly continues to carry the legacy of her husband’s tenacity and tenderness as she pursues the relentless fights her husband started.
Already in 2016 when Sondharwa was running for mayor of the village, 70 upper-caste people broke the doors and attacked his house. His father’s shoulder was brutally hacked by a sword.
Aage’s father remembers the first sight of his son’s mutilated dead body.
Aage’s father standing next to the tree.
The 17-year-old Nitin Aage was brutally thrashed, dragged by a motorcycle, burnt and hung from a tree for talking to a girl from the upper-caste community.