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’.
A long awaited bill prohibiting manual scavenging was passed by the Indian parliament on 7 September. But two leading campaign organisations say that much needs to be done before the total eradication of this inhuman practice is achieved.
The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery has urged the Government of Madagascar to address the issue of caste discrimination openly. She also notes that victims of caste discrimination are generally vulnerable to slavery and slavery-like practices, such as bonded labour in South Asia.
Hundreds of manual scavengers demonstrated in Delhi on 7 August against government apathy in abolishing the inhuman practice of manual scavenging. Unless legislation is introduced soon, they will return in their thousands and prevent parliament from functioning.
IDSN press release: After travelling thousands of kilometres through 18 Indian states, the Maila Mukti Yatra – a march to eradicate manual scavenging – concluded today with an event in New Delhi. The attendance by high level officials from the Government of India as well as the United Nations is a measure of the Yatra’s success.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has issued a strong statement in support of the movement to end manual scavenging in India. The OHCHR news release is copied below.
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.
The winner of the Dutch Human Rights Tulip 2012 is barred from traveling to the Netherlands to receive his award. Marimuthu Bharathan, a Dalit human rights defender from Tamil Nadu, has been refused a passport by the Indian authorities.
PRESS RELEASE: A strongly worded resolution on caste discrimination in India was debated and adopted today by the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The Parliament condemned the high number of atrocities committed against Dalits in India and the Indian government’s insufficient action on the issue of caste discrimination.
A national march – the Maila Mukti Yatra - will cross India with a call for the total eradication of ‘the slavery of manual scavenging’. It happens at a time when prominent campaigners have expressed scepticism towards new legislation against this banned, but continuing, practice.