Thirty-one parliamentarians from India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh gathered for a meeting of the Asian Parliamentarians’ Forum on Dalit Concerns in Kathmandu, at the fringes of the 2014 SAARC meeting. The former Prime Minister of Nepal, Baburam Bhatttarai, delivered a remarkable keynote speech, calling for an international framework and a regional thematic approach to eliminate caste discrimination, and cooperation between South Asian parliamentarians for a common agenda.
The Global Slavery Index 2014, released by the Walk Free Foundation, singles out India as the country in the world with the most slaves and sees caste at the root of slavery in India. Caste-affected Mauritania tops the Index on percentage of the population in slavery.
1.2 million people and five million livestock in district Tharparkar are now once again in the grip of a severe drought and efforts to prevent future human catastrophies must be stepped up.
In a mass protest 15,000 Hindus, the majority of them Dalits, marched through the streets of Karachi to push for the provincial Government of Sindh in Pakistan to meet their demands for provisions to stop escalating discrimination against Hindus in the region.
Urgent and sustainable relief is needed for Dalits residing in the Thar desert who are repeatedly struck by drought. Over 100 children have died in this last drought and the Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network have issued a press release calling for action to address the cause of these humanitarian catastrophes in Thar and find sustainable solutions to protect Dalits from droughts in future.
Caste systems are present in four out of five countries ranked the worst slavery offenders, in the 2013 Global Slavery Index. India alone accounts for half of the people on the planet regarded as ’modern slaves’.
Next month, the European Parliament will express serious concern about caste discrimination and urge the EU to take action on this important human rights issue.
Nine Dalit women activists from South Asia attended the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week. Members of the group spoke at a side event on Dalit women on 4 June, and they appealed to UN member states to address their situation.
Participants in a consultation on Dalit political representation have adopted a resolution urging political parties in Pakistan to nominate members of ‘scheduled castes’ for seats in the country’s elected assemblies.
A new report documents the situation of Pakistan's Dalit women; one of the most socially excluded and impoverished sections of the population. The shadow report for a UN CEDAW review of Pakistan in February calls on the Government to focus on education, access to basic services, and laws and special programmes to protect the rights of Dalit women.