The concluding observations and recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) 2014 review of India have been released. The committee raises serious concern about human rights violations against Dalit women, caste-based violence and rape, land rights and the lack of implementation of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and other key legislation meant to protect Dalit women. The concluding observations however lack adequate mention of discrimination against Dalit women in education and employment, specifically manual scavenging, despite the fact that these were areas of concern captured in the List of Issues and review by CEDAW experts.
In the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), review of India on 2nd July 2014, the issues of Dalit women and girls were brought up by several experts of the Committee and the Committee noted that Dalit women and the lack of implementation of laws were matters of serious concern.
Report on the UN Human Rights Council 26th session, 17th June 2014, side-event on 'Caste-based violence against women: The role of the UN in combatting caste-based violence and discrimination'.
The case of the rape and hanging of two girls in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, widely reported to be Dalits, has caused a global media storm of reports on rape and violence against women in India and the strong links to caste discrimination. Numerous stories have highlighted that India’s ‘rape culture’ and ‘culture of impunity’ will not end until caste discrimination is tackled head on. Leading Human Rights NGOs and the UN have also made statements.
On Tuesday 17th June the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, will give the opening statement at a side-event on caste-based violence against women, at the UN Human Rights Council. The event comes following a series of brutal rape cases against Dalit women and the rape and hanging of two teenage cousins in India.
Dalit Human rights defenders and a team from the IDSN secretariat took part in The European Instrument on Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) 2014 Forum on Protecting Those Who Protect. Asha Kowtal, General Secretary of the National Dalit Women’s movement in India, spoke about Dalit women human rights defenders as part of a panel while Henri Tiphagne raised the issue of shrinking space for human rights defenders in India from the floor.
“The intergenerational nature of caste-based discrimination condemns women to a life of exclusion, marginalization and disadvantage in every sphere of life. Many of those women are denied an education and economic opportunities, and perform dangerous and unprotected work, including … modern forms of slavery,” stated the SR on Violence against Women, Ms. Rashida Manjoo, in her report following her mission to India.
Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims are most at risk of dropping out of school and being denied an education in India – states the comprehensive report “They say we’re dirty” – Denying an Education to India’s Marginalised, just released by Human Rights Watch.
A new report finds that Dalit girls in India's garment industry live in hostels, with little freedom of movement, are underpaid for long working-days and working under hazardous conditions.
“Even if no one else recognizes us as human, we will shout it from the rooftops. … The shame is not on the women, the shame is on India,” said US Dalit woman filmmaker Thenmozhi Soundararajan in the talk she gave together with Asha Kowtal from AIDMAM, at the high profile Women in The World Summit in New York**. Uma Thurman introduced the talk by playing the part of a Dalit woman rape victim and NBC anchor Cynthia McFadden moderated the discussion.