A ruling by the Supreme Court of India, diluting the provisions related to anticipatory bail and immediate arrest under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (PoA) Act, has sparked mass protest. The protesters have been met with police brutality leading to injuries and the death of several protesters. IDSN is greatly concerned over the rulings weakening of the SC/ST Act, which are meant to protect victims of caste atrocities, and strongly condemns any use of force against peaceful protesters.
Dalit women activists marched from 23 April – 2 May through 30 villages in Rajasthan, to highlight atrocities against Dalit women, and the need for access to justice, education and health. The march, known in India as a ‘Yatra’, was organised by the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikaar Manch (AIDMAM) and comes at a crucial time in Rajasthan where reports of caste-related atrocities are rife. The activists are meeting students, local activists, health workers, local administration and many other actors to understand the issues on the ground and to amplify the voices for justice.
Amnesty India has launched a new online tool on haltthehate.amnesty.org.in aimed at collecting documentation for hate crimes from across India. Many of the crimes already documented on the tool are atrocities committed against Dalits. Everyone working on Dalit rights in India are invited to contribute to the database of cases on the site.
A new report by Anti-Slavery International documents widespread slavery in India’s brick making industry and finds that the majority of workers are Dalits. Whole families, including small children, work 9-12 hour days in debt-bondage with little recourse to justice. The report finds that discrimination and exclusion, along with the way brick kiln moulders are recruited and paid, underpins the widespread existence of slavery in the kilns and the limited opportunities for workers to escape.
Bangladesh was reviewed by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from 15-16 March 2018. An IDSN delegation, including Dalit representatives from Bangladesh, took part in the review where several issues relating to caste-based discrimination were discussed. Ahead of the review IDSN and its members in Bangladesh - BDERM and NNMC submitted a joint report for the consideration of the committee. BDERM also issued a press release on the review.
In advance of the UN HRC 37 IDSN distributed its recommendations, referring to the High Commissioner on Human Rights reports, the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, and the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan. IDSN board member Henri Tiphagne also spoke at key side-events and the situation of Dalits was noted in several debates.
Al Jazeera has released a documentary video tracking the fatal outcome of a relationship across caste lines between a young non-Dalit woman and a Dalit man in India. The young man was killed by the woman’s relatives and the video shows how deeply ingrained caste discrimination remains in the country. Watch the video here.
For centuries a hereditary system of servitude has forced members of the Haratine ethnic minority to be subjected to slavery in Mauritania, working without pay as cattle herders and domestic servants, despite an official ban. In March, Mauritania sentenced two men to 20 years in prison and one woman to 10 years in prison for enslaving their fellow citizens. These three rulings are extraordinary in the West African country, which has exceptionally few prosecutions for slavery. IDSN welcomes the verdicts as a sign of progress in the country.
The report covers key developments and activities within IDSN’s United Nations, European Union, and communications and networking work. The report can be downloaded from our website on http://www.idsn.org/ar2017. The highlights of the report include: The UN OHCHR launched a guidance tool addressing caste-based discrimination and IDSN publishes a roadmap to the new tool The UPRs of India and Pakistan yielded several recommendations on caste-based discrimination Treaty body reviews of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka included recommendations on caste discrimination Young Dalit women speak out at the UN Forum on Minority Issues Reports and statements from Special Rapporteurs include references to caste-based discrimination Dalit activists take part in IDSN’s workshop on UN and EU advocacy in Nepal MEPs send an open letter on caste discrimination ahead of the EU-India summit EU’s Annual Report, and the European Parliament’s Annual Report, on human rights highlight concern over caste discrimination Dalit activists take part in the EU NGO forum
Caste Aside is a documentary about the British government's controversial decision to introduce legislation against caste discrimination in the UK. Highlighting both sides of this heated debate, the documentary speaks to Dalit rights activists, Hindu community leaders, academics and lawyers, as well as those who say they have been discriminated against on the basis of their caste - in Britain.
Human Rights Defenders’ Alert India have issued the following urgent appeal: Dalit activists brutally assaulted, arrested and detained by police for seeking action on encroachment of public property in Kochi, Kerala.
Learn about the work of IDSN member the Feminist Dalit Organisation (FEDO) to promote education and economic empowerment of Dalit women in their October-December e-bulletin.
IDSN Executive Chair and DSN-UK Director, Meena Varma, has been shortlisted for a ‘Secularist of the year 2018 award’ by the The National Secular Society in the UK . The award ‘recognises a campaigner or group for an outstanding contribution to the secularist movement’. The NSS’s council of management selected the shortlist from nominations which were submitted by its members and supporters.
The Dalit community’s analysis of the the 2018 budget of the Government of India shows that less than half of the required amount has been allocated for schemes meant to benefit Dalits and Adivasis in India - Read the full analysis by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) here.
The December 2017 Dalit Women Speak Out conference in Pune, India, was a celebration of Dalit women power and resistance and a platform from which to map out new strategies and strengthen the collective force. The conference presented an open and free space for over 400 Dalit women from across India to speak their mind and discuss how best to progress with a collective resistance to caste and gender oppression.
A new report by UN Women finds that a woman’s caste in India increases her exposure to mortality because of intersectional discrimination, poor sanitation and inadequate healthcare. The global report Turning promises into action: gender equality in the 2030 Agenda, examines through a gender lens the progress and challenges in the implementation of all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The actions of the police and the media during the April 2 bandh against changes in the Atrocity Act demonstrates that prejudice runs deep.
Rekha’s story - Rekha Bai is a 32-year-old woman from Rajasthan, India. When she was a child she was married off to a man whose mother, because of her caste, was engaged in “manual scavenging.” Traditionally, women of the Dalit caste are obligated to empty the dry latrines of people from higher castes — with their bare hands. They must then carry the waste on their heads, in wicker baskets, to a dumpsite outside the village. Following tradition, Rekha inherited this responsibility when her mother-in-law became too old. “As payment for my labour I got just one chapatti from each household.”
Dalit children being made to sit and eat separately from other children, being beaten, abused and forced to do humiliating tasks, form part of the cases uncovered during the ‘Zero Discrimination in School Education’ campaign in India. These cases are highlighted in the report ‘Exclusion in Schools – A Study on Practice of Discrimination and Violence’ by the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ-NCDHR) and the Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion.