Caste discrimination affects both the Hindu and the Muslim populations in Bangladesh, and perpetuates the poverty trap the country is caught in. Dalits exist far below the poverty line with extremely limited access to health services, education and employment. They live in ‘colonies’ with very poor housing and work almost exclusively in ‘the service sector’, doing unclean jobs in urban areas such as street sweeping, manual scavenging and burying the dead.
The lives of Dalits are particularly harsh due to the practice of caste discrimination. They are frequently prevented from entering the homes of non-Dalits and are often met with discrimination when trying to bury members of their family at public graveyards. A large number of child labourers in Bangladesh are Dalits. Members of minorities, most of whom are Dalits, hold almost no official positions.
The estimates of the number of Dalits in Bangladesh vary from 3.5-5.5 million. They have been much overlooked in the development and rights discourse and have only recently been able to raise their voices. Having started to engage with government and international donors, they have now managed to place the issue of caste discrimination on the agenda.
Girls and women from Dalit communities in Bangladesh often fall victim to prostitution and trafficking of bonded labour. They are deprived control, not only over property, but also over their own bodies. They are excluded from political participation, community development and employment, and have faced violent attacks when trying to vote.
IDSN has created an extensive database on caste-based discrimination.
Videos – Caste Discrimination in Bangladesh
Below are a selection of videos dealing with caste discrimination in Bangladesh. Visit IDSNs YouTube Channel for more videos on other countries/themes.