Bringing Indian and Hispanic feminists together

November 5, 2019


On Nov. 12, students will get the chance to learn about a form of feminism that deals with questioning gender roles and the caste system in the Dalit community.


The event will be held at the Valle Verde Cafeteria Annex at 10 a.m. and will include a discussion panel and information from Sunaina Arya, an Indian philosophy scholar.



Photo Courtesy

Sunaina Arya, the author of the book "Dalit Feminist Theory: a Reader."



Students will be able to “learn about the female struggles in India and how women are fighting the caste system,” while enjoying Indian cuisine.


The Dalit are an ethnic group from India that are considered to be the bottom rung of society according to their caste system.


According to Valle Verde Philosophy Professor Manuela Gomez, Dalit women face increasing discrimination. The only jobs they can get are as cleaners and prostitutes. 


Many are forced into child marriages and are seen to have no worth without their husbands.


Arya is author of the book “Dalit Feminist Theory: A reader.”


She was born in India and is senior researcher from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. 


She is currently working on her dissertation on Feminist Philosophy from a Dalit perspective and has personal experience with the issues facing them. 


While the problems Dalit women face aren’t identical to those living on the border.


Gomez says she believes they are similar and people in the borderland can benefit from their philosophy.


She explained that in the Hispanic community there is a metaphorical caste system based on wealth and class.


Poverty has led to discrimination and mistreatment of women.


Time has shown that poverty is difficult to escape in Hispanic culture and similar to the Dalit that forces many to stay in a “lower class.” 


Another big issue both the people of the border and the Dalit face is the high murder rates of women.


Even today women in the border area go missing or are murdered more often than may think, particularly on the southern side of the border.


Gomez explained that murders are so common many people don’t think about them. “It has become normal here. When people from other places look at what’s happening and how many women are dying they say ‘hey what’s going on here?’” she said.


Dalit women are viewed as “disposable” by people in their community. Gomez explained that women are encouraged to commit suicide and “burn along with her husband,” if he were to die.


While this is illegal in India, the laws are poorly enforced leaving many of these crimes unanswered for.
While Gomez admits the specifics of what women here and in India deal with are very different, overall problems are similar.


“It’s like we have the same problems on different sides of the worlds,” she said.


She hopes that students will take the opportunity to learn from another culture.


She also hopes by coming together solutions can be found for these problems and create a better future for women everywhere.


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