IDSN has issued the following statements including key recommendations in connection with the situation following the global Covid-19 pandemic:
IDSN Statement – 27 March 2020
As Covid-19 sweeps across the world it is crucial that we ensure that relief, health services and awareness raising efforts are inclusive and accessible to all irrespective of caste, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other factors. While time is of the essence in the response to Covid-19, taking a moment to ensure that high risk communities such as Dalits are included and addressed in global, national and local responses to Covid-19, can save millions of lives.
IDSN Statement – 3 April 2020
We strongly urge governments and companies with supply chains in South Asia, to take measures to urgently protect migrant and informal workers, including Dalits, against a loss of income, social benefits, shelter and a means to feed themselves and their families, as Covid-19 measures and repercussions threaten their lives and livelihoods.
Covid-19 statements and initiatives from the IDSN members, associates and affiliates
IDSN Members continue to respond to the extremely vulnerable situation of Dalits during the Covid-19 lockdown and pandemic. We have collated some examples of reports, relief and other initiatives undertaken by IDSN members over the past two months:
Covid-19 Relief Response Stories of Resilience & Hope (Jan Sahas)
Jan Sahas has released a report detailing their support to the most vulnerable in the lockdown period. The compilation of stories in the report, provide a glimpse into the deep trauma, anxiety and humiliation people have faced during lockdown and the work that has been done to address this.
Empowering Dalit Communities during Covid-19 (NDMJ-NCDHR)
National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) has issued a newsletter documenting the results of their monitoring of the cases of caste atrocities, and other forms of injustice towards the marginalised and vulnerable sections of society during the Covid-19 lockdown and their work to ensure justice.
Brutal Assault by M.P Police Continues on Dalits even in Covid 19 Pandemic (NDMJ Press Release)
NDMJ strongly condemn the police brutality on the Dalit farmers in Guna district in Madhya Pradesh, which forced them to attempt suicide.
Emergency Response in Covid-19 Pandemic in Tamil Nadu (SASY)
Social Awareness Society for Youths (SASY) document efforts by SASY to respond to the Covid-19 lockdown in Tamil Nadu by providing relief in line with core humanitarian standards, human rights monitoring and interventions in caste-based discrimination and atrocities.
Webinar held on the Impact of Covid-19 on Dalits – Voices from the Ground (NCDHR)
The IDSN Director took part in a Webinar organised by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), bringing together experts from across India to discuss the challenges faced by Dalits in India and ways forward. In India the implications of the difficulties arising out of Covid-19 have been monitored by NCDHR to highlight the disproportionate impact of the virus and the immediate lockdown imposed on Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalised community members. Some of the key results of the work undertaken was shared by the various experts to highlight the challenges faced – in particular by Dalit women – along with a call for solidarity to international organisations. More than 100 people participated.
Uncertain Futures: Effect of Corona Pandemic on the lives of Dalits of Nepal (DNF and Dalit Civil Society Organisations)
The Dalit NGO Federation and Dalit Civil Society organisation in Nepal have launched A Rapid Assessment Survey Reportdocumenting the status of Dalits in Nepal under the Covid-19 lockdown. The report also offers recommendations for addressing the situation. In addition to the survey the webinar “An Effect of Corona Pandemic (Covid-19) to Dalits in Nepal” was held on 1 July 2020 hosted by the Asia Dalit Rights Forum (ADRF) an Asian level Dalit platform. The event was led by ADRF Nepalese members. The webinar discussed and highlighted the impact and effects of Covid-19 on Dalits in Nepal.
Covid-19 response and its impact on Dalit women (FEDO)
The Feminist Dalit Organisation (FEDO) has released a newsletter documenting their work in awareness raising and relief, targeting Dalits during the Covid-19 lockdown. The newsletter also looks at caste and gender violence under the lockdown and the results of a rapid assessment survey on the situation of Dalits. In September 2020 FEDO released an additional newsletter on their ongoing work – available here >>
The web portal by Jagaran Media Centre documenting the situation in Nepal – is continually updated with new information and press releases and JMC also plan to make the site available in English.
See below for earlier updates (March-June) on the Covid-19 related work of IDSN network members and associates:
IDSN members in South Asia and international associates have been quick to offer immediate response and assistance, as the ramifications for Dalits of Covid-19 measures have become clear. While IDSN has issued two general statements on the situation for Dalits, below you will find a collection of publicly available information, appeals and initiatives from our members and associates.
All IDSN members in South Asia are engaged with supporting Dalit communities through the Covid-19 crisis within their areas of expertise. Some are providing relief materials and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families who have lost their income overnight, some are raising awareness and providing protective equipment and all are advocating for Government attention and support to Dalits who are struggling to cope. Below we have linked to some of the public appeals and resources made available online by our members:
A web portal by Jagaran Media Centre documenting the situation in Nepal (JMC) – JMC also plan to make the site available in English.
Jan Sahas in India has launched a comprehensive web portal with updated information on Government efforts in all the states, solutions, status reports and innovations as well as a telephone helpline offering toll free support and advice. They are also offering humanitarian support and rapid situational assessments.
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) in India has issues an Appeal by Dalits and Adivasis to the Central Government in the view of Covid-19 and is launching an appentitled C.L.A.I.M. (Community Live Access to Inclusive Measures) designed to support Dalits and other marginalised groups in accessing relief and claiming their rights.
IDSN’s international associates have also been quick to respond to the situation. Below are some of the statements and initiatives relevant to Dalits.
Anti-Slavery International has published Guidance for policymakers, donors and business leaders to ensure that responses to Covid-19 reach victims of modern slavery and people vulnerable to slavery with several clear references to caste.
The International Movement Against all forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) has developed a Covid-19 related database of national human rights institutions (NHRIs), equality bodies, NGOs and other bodies that can receive complaints on incidents of racism and discrimination – including caste discrimination. The list is also available in a PDF version
COVID-19: A Human Rights Checklist (Human Rights Watch)
Other useful resources from friends of IDSN
COVID-19 l State action must be human rights compliant and protect human rights defenders– a compilation of all the UN recommendations and guidance on human rights (International Service for Human Rights – ISHR)
India’s COVID-19 Lockdown: Human Rights Assessment and Compilation of State Relief Measures (Housing and Land Rights Network)
Tracking tool – Impact of States of emergencies on civil and political rights – the Centre for Civil and Political Rights has launched a tracking tool related to states of emergencies declared after the COVID-19 pandemic (CCPR)