The Australian Parliament has passed a landmark motion urging the Government to take action on fighting caste-based discrimination. The motion requests the government to consider interventions in inclusion and non-discrimination in humanitarian aid; inclusive recruitment practice and management practice in all business partners; and strengthening policy and human rights dialogues for the elimination of caste-based discrimination in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The motion also urges the Government to support projects combating caste-based discrimination through Australian International Development Programmes.
The motion was passed on 27th June 2018 and moved by Senators Claire Moore and Lee Rhiannon. It states that 260 million people across the globe are estimated to face discrimination based on descent and work– Dalits, Burakumin, Osu, Romani, Quilombo and other communities. They comprise a little less than 4% of the world’s population including 210 million Dalits in South Asia.
The motion furthermore asks that “the Sustainable Development Goals agenda recognises the need to reduce inequalities based on or aggravated by discrimination based on work and descent as a crucial and measurable goal.” It also notes that while some countries are taking progressive steps towards the elimination caste systems, like India and Nepal, functioning structural mechanisms to ensuring legal and legislative rights especially against violence and discrimination for Dalits and Dalit women are lacking.
The motion comes following advocacy efforts by the Asia Dalit Rights Forum (ADRF) to sensitise politicians and officials in Australia to caste-based discrimination. Dalit rights advocacy groups including IDSN and ADRF, have been working for many years to step up global action, solidarity and support in the fight against caste discrimination and this motion represents another step in the right direction.