A comprehensive report on the status of Dalit women in Nepal has been released by IDSN member the Feminist Dalit Organization Nepal (FEDO) with support from IDSN and Womankind. The report details the situation, challenges and recommendations within poverty, education, health, safety, political participation, Dalit women in the media and Dalit girl children in Nepal. It is clear from the report that while progress has been made, immediate and sustained action targeted at Dalit women in Nepal is crucial.
Dalit women in Pakistan are at high risk of human rights abuses due to intersecting caste, religious and gender discrimination. In the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) review of Pakistan, the Committee recommends that the state addresses intersecting discrimination directly and note concern over the persistence of abductions and forced conversions, stereotypes and insufficient disaggregated data.
The report covers key developments and activities within IDSN’s work under the thematic areas Dalit women and gender justice, business and human rights and equality and participation, within the United Nations, European Union, and communications and networking programmes.
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 and its members have documented discrimination in relief in relation to numerous disasters in the past including flooding, droughts and earthquakes, where Dalits have been left behind, not provided relief materials on an equitable basis and not given equal access to healthcare, shelter or rehabilitation due to ingrained stigma and discrimination. There is a high risk that COVID-19 will also be widespread in caste-affected countries and it is therefore crucial that the unique nature of caste discrimination and the discriminatory practice of untouchability are taken into account. Therefore, Dalit communities and civil society organisations must be consulted and included in planning and implementation efforts to mitigate the serious repercussions of COVID-19. The statement issued by IDSN outlines eight key factors that make Dalits a particularly high-risk group and offers eight key recommendations for state and non-state actors.
Manjula Pradeep, human rights activist and founder of Wayve Foundation on caste and women's labour speaks about the unique situtation of Dalit women in relation to labour and modern slavery.
According to a new study in India, Dalits account for over a third of the homeless, double their share of India’s population. The European Union-funded study by the NGOs Indo-Global Social Service Society and Organisation Functioning For Eytham’s Respect (Offer) surveyed over 400 homeless people in 15 cities across five states. The survey found that the Scheduled Castes (Dalits) made up the highest proportion of the urban homeless at 36 per cent, followed by the Scheduled Tribes at 23 per cent. “It clearly shows that the caste system in India makes people economically, socially and politically deprived and pushes them to the margins and an inhuman condition,” the report states.
"Before, I was not aware of my rights. Now, I am aware of all of them. I have the courage to stand up for myself and to ask for my rights when I am denied them," says Premalatha Tamilselvan, a Dalit woman who took part in a human rights training programme offered by IDSN member People’s Watch as a child and is now defending human rights and fighting to end caste discrimination. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights documents her story.
“Living in India and being a Dalit woman myself, I have always been exposed to Dalit literature, activism and everyday life discrimination. To find instances of transnational solidarities of India with its neighbouring country of Nepal, where Nepali Dalit women’s lives too are intertwined with gender roles, casteism and patriarchal subordination, startled me.” Pragya Roy takes a look at the status of Dalit women in India and Nepal and the bonds that join them together in solidarity.
Born into a Dalit family that had been engaged in manual scavenging for generations, Bezwada Wilson channelled the outrage that stemmed from witnessing the injustice faced by his community to launch a movement to end this abhorrent practice. India Development review details this story on the Feminism in India platform.
Christians want Scheduled Caste status to be granted regardless of religious affiliation. Changing religion does not end the discrimination imposed on the Dalit community. For years, the Church has asked for the revision of a 1950 presidential order that excludes converts to Christianity from quotas in public administration. IDSN has also brought up the issue of unfair treatment of Dalit Christians on many occasions. Read the Asia News article for an overview of the issue.
As part of the Minority Stories initiative, Minority Rights Group have published an eight chapter story on Japan’s minorities with a strong focus on caste discrimination and the Buraku in Japan. The story has been created in collaboration with the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), and we strongly recommend diving into this great new resource
Dalit and Adivasis in India are being let down by the Government in the 2020-21 Union budget. IDSN member, the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), has released an analysis of the budget showing unacceptable gaps in allocations and highlighting the discrepancies between Government rhetoric when it comes to social inclusion and the figures in the actual budget.
In January, IDSN participated in the National Consultation “Localizing SDGs through Dalit perspectives” drawing together over eighty delegates from fifteen states in India, to discuss ways forward to address caste and gender discrimination vis-à-vis the UN Global Goals. The consultation took place in New Delhi.
In February, the IDSN Membership Coordinator took part in the National Stakeholder Consultation on the UN UPR in Nepal, organised by IDSN members the Dalit NGO Federation, Feminist Dalit Organization & Jagaran Media Centre together with IDSN Affiliate the Dalit Welfare Organisation and over thirty other Dalit NGOs in Nepal. The Consultation highlighted the need to act to end caste discrimination and promote caste gender justice. Over 70 participants from CSOs, media, academia, and Government took part in the consultation.
IDSN submitted a report detailing the challenges faced by Dalit women and girls in Pakistan, for the review of the government’s report on compliance with the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW review), which took place Tuesday 11th February.
The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) welcomes the adoption of the European Parliament’s annual report on human rights and democracy in the world 2018 and the European Union’s policy on the matter. The European Parliament’s report notes “with great concern the scale and consequences of caste hierarchies, caste-based discrimination and the perpetuation of caste-based human rights violations, including the denial of access to the legal system or employment, continued segregation, poverty and stigmatisation, and caste-related barriers to the exercise of basic human rights and facilitation of human development”.
“Low-grade, unskilled sanitation workers often face social stigma and discrimination. This is especially true when sanitation is linked to a caste-based structure and often allocated to castes perceived to be lower in the caste hierarchy, such as in India and Bangladesh, where sanitation work is perceived to belong to the Dalit caste. This stigma compounds the social ostracizing and limitations on social mobility that workers face and often results in intergenerational discrimination, where children of sanitation workers often struggle to escape the vicious cycle of limited opportunities and sanitation work.” “[In Bangladesh] Many live in segregated sweeper colonies, which are unhygienic slumlike areas offering poor and overcrowded living conditions. Dalits (low-caste Hindus) and Christian and Muslim Bengalis” "challenges include combating the systemic discrimination Dalits face, which affects their education and real opportunities to become entrepreneurs, and the multiple layers of subcontracting that enable manual scavenging to continue without oversight or enforcement of laws by local authorities"