The newly released Human Rights Watch World Report 2018, Amnesty International Report 2018 and the US State Department reports on India and Nepal, find that caste-based discrimination and violence remain a serious threat as hate crimes against Dalits are widespread. Some of the other themes raised in the reports include discrimination in accessing services, ´manual scavenging´ and bonded labour.

Failure of state authorities to protect the rights of Dalits

In the India chapter of the Amnesty International 2018 report it is noted that,

“Adivasi communities continue to be displaced by industrial projects, and hate crimes against Dalits remain widespread.” Amnesty International

The Nepal chapter of the same report highlight the disproportionate affect on ´Dalits, and other caste-based and ethnic minorities´ in the aftermath of the earthquake. Human Rights Watch suggest that:

“The widening gap in recovery efforts has significantly impacted lower caste and indigenous ethnic groups, people with low income and education levels, and persons living with disabilities.” Human Rights Watch

The US State Department also reported that:

“On July 18, a 19-year-old lower-caste man reportedly committed suicide at Engadiyur in Kerala’s Thrissur District a day after he was released from police custody for not having proper motor vehicle registration papers.  His father and friends alleged instead that he died from injuries sustained from police brutality while in custody, and a postmortem report confirmed he had injuries consistent with torture.  Based on the complaint by the victim’s father, a case was filed against several police officers under the Criminal Procedure Code and the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act.  Two police officers were suspended for the death, and the case was transferred to the Crime Bureau for further investigation.” US State Department

Caste-based discrimination and violence

“Official statistics released in November stated that more than 40,000 crimes against Scheduled Castes were reported in 2016. Several incidents were reported of members of dominant castes attacking Dalits for accessing public and social spaces or for perceived caste transgressions.” Amnesty International

The US State Department reports also notes:

“Although the law protects Dalits, there were numerous reports of violence and significant discrimination in access to services, such as healthcare, education, temple attendance and marriage.” US State Department

“NGOs reported widespread discrimination, including prohibiting Dalits from walking on public pathways, wearing footwear, accessing water from public taps in upper-caste neighborhoods, participating in some temple festivals, bathing in public pools, or using certain cremation grounds.  In Gujarat, for example, Dalits were reportedly denied entry to temples and denied educational and employment opportunities.” US State Department

Manual Scavenging

 “Activists said that at least 90 Dalits employed as manual scavengers died during the year while cleaning sewers, despite the practice being prohibited. Many of those killed were illegally employed by government agencies.” Amnesty International

This lead to, in August, Delhi state government saying that people who employed manual scavengers would be prosecuted for manslaughter.

 “Between April and July, 39 people reportedly died from being trapped in toxic sewage lines, revealing how the inhuman practice of “manual scavenging”…continues because of the failure to implement laws banning the practice.” Human Rights Watch

The US State Department report highlights that:

“Manual scavenging–the removal of animal or human waste by Dalits–continued in spite of its legal prohibition.  NGO activists claimed elected village councils employed a majority of manual scavengers that belonged to Other Backward Classes and Dalit populations.  Media regularly published articles and pictures of persons cleaning manholes and sewers without protective gear.  On March 16, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment stated that there were 12,737 manual scavengers in 13 states and union territories.  NGOs maintained the actual numbers were higher.” US State Department

“Human Rights Watch reported that children of manual scavengers faced discrimination, humiliation, and segregation at village schools.  Their occupation often exposed manual scavengers to infections that affected their skin, eyes, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems.  Health practitioners suggested children exposed to such bacteria were often unable to maintain a healthy body weight and suffered from stunted growth.” US State Department

Bonded labour, and obstacles to education for Dalit children

The US State Department, in its India chapter, highlights the Sumangali scheme in the South Indian textile industry and the obstacles placed on Dalit children to access the right to education:

“´Sumangali schemes’ affected an estimated 120,000 young women. These plans, named after the Tamil word for ‘happily married women’, are a form of bonded labour, in which young women or girls work to earn money for a dowry to be able to marry.” US State Department

“While in bonded labor, employers reportedly subjected women to serious workplace abuses, severe restrictions on freedom of movement and communication, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, sex trafficking, and being killed.  The majority of sumangali-bonded laborers came from the Scheduled Castes (SC) and, of those, employers subjected Dalits, the lowest-ranking Arunthathiyars, and migrants from the northern part of the country, to particular abuse.” US State Department

With regards to education for Dalit children and obstacles that were found:

“NGOs reported that Dalit students were sometimes denied admission to certain schools because of their caste or were required to present caste certification prior to admission.  There were reports that school officials barred Dalit children from morning prayers, asked Dalit children to sit in the back of the class, or forced them to clean school toilets while denying them access to the same facilities.  There were also reports that teachers refused to correct the homework of Dalit children, refused to provide midday meals to Dalit children, and asked Dalit children to sit separately from children of upper-caste families.” US State Department

More info:

Caste extracts from the Amnesty International 2018 report
Caste extracts from the current US State Department Human Rights Report on India and Nepal
Caste extracts from the Human Rights Watch 2018 report

Full Human Rights Watch 2018 report
Full Amnesty International 2018 report
Full current US State Department Human Rights Report on India and Nepal