The links between caste and hazardous forms of sanitation work were highlighted by speakers at the Sanitation Workers Forum 2021 from 29 November – 2 December. Participants at the forum urged that immediate steps are taken to ensure the safety and dignity of millions of sanitation workers worldwide – and ensure social protections.
Economic, social and labour rights were the thematic headlines of this year’s EU-NGO Human Rights Forum, where three Dalit human rights defenders were featured as panellists, facilitated by IDSN. Caste-related barriers to healthcare in Pakistan, post-covid economic and social recovery for Dalit workers in South Asia and building corporate accountability to respect human rights were among the key topics covered by the panellists.
Amnesty International, WaterAid and the International Dalit Solidarity Network call on authorities in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan to take immediate action to protect sanitation workers who are risking their lives on the COVID-19 frontlines.
In connection with their participation in the 45th Human Rights Council session, states are encouraged to consider the ongoing and systemic practice of discrimination based on work and descent, also known as caste-based discrimination, affecting more than 260 million people globally.
DSN Statement – 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.
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.
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.
Press Release – Ethical Trading Initiative – UK - Remaining silent about caste discrimination in global supply chains is fueling modern slavery, child labour and the exploitation of workers in South Asia, according to new ETI Base Code guidance for companies published today.
IDSN participated actively in the 11th Session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues from the 29-30 November, under the theme "Statelessness: A Minority Issue". IDSN members from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan presented on how Dalits in reality often suffer de facto statelessness, due to extreme marginalization and lack of access to rights. Read the IDSN news article on the forum here.
Joint statement by the International Dalit Solidarity Network, Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network, International Movement Against All Forms of Racism and Discrimination (IMADR), Minority Rights Group International, Anti-Slavery International and FORUM-ASIA. As the UN review Pakistan’s human rights record on 13 November, we urge the Government to commit with time bound action plans to end ongoing serious human rights violations against Dalits in Pakistan. Despite general commitments made to this effect at previous UN UPR reviews of Pakistan these have not been implemented and violations such as bonded labour, forced conversions and disappearances, murder and persecution of Dalit rights defenders continue unabated. As a newly elected member of the UN Human Rights Council, Pakistan must ensure that commitments to protect the rights of Dalits are urgently and duly implemented.
The 9th session of the Forum on Minority Issues (the Forum) was held last week, on 24 and 25 November 2016, focusing on the situation of minorities in humanitarian crises. The Forum provides a unique opportunity for state representatives, experts, civil society and minority communities, and specialised bodies to engage in a constructive dialogue and seek ways to strengthen the protection and promotion of minority rights in prevention, crisis situations and the aftermath.
The Global Slavery Index 2014, released by the Walk Free Foundation, singles out India as the country in the world with the most slaves and sees caste at the root of slavery in India. Caste-affected Mauritania tops the Index on percentage of the population in slavery.
Thirty-one parliamentarians from India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh gathered for a meeting of the Asian Parliamentarians’ Forum on Dalit Concerns in Kathmandu, at the fringes of the 2014 SAARC meeting. The former Prime Minister of Nepal, Baburam Bhatttarai, delivered a remarkable keynote speech, calling for an international framework and a regional thematic approach to eliminate caste discrimination, and cooperation between South Asian parliamentarians for a common agenda.
1.2 million people and five million livestock in district Tharparkar are once again in the grip of a severe drought and efforts to prevent future human catastrophies must be stepped up.
In a mass protest 15,000 Hindus, the majority of them Dalits, marched through the streets of Karachi to push for the provincial Government of Sindh in Pakistan to meet their demands for provisions to stop escalating discrimination against Hindus in the region.
Over 100 children have died in this last drought and the Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network have issued a press release calling for action to address the cause of these humanitarian catastrophes in Thar and find sustainable solutions to protect Dalits in future.
Caste systems are present in four out of five countries ranked the worst slavery offenders, in the 2013 Global Slavery Index. India alone accounts for half of the people on the planet regarded as ’modern slaves’.