On 14 November the Alderbugh Cinema DocFest invited the IDSN Executive Director to speak about Dalit women human rights defenders and caste in South Asia at the screening of the award winning documentary Writing with Fire.
Veteran civil rights and #BlackLivesMatter campaigner Professor Angela Davis has given a video statement about the need for increased solidarity with the #DalitLivesMatter movement.
EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore and India and Nepal desk representatives of the European External Action Service (EEAS) met with IDSN and Dalit women activists from the Feminist Dalit Organisation – Nepal (FEDO) and All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM-NCDHR) to discuss caste-based violence against Dalit women in their respective countries. The meeting was held online on 24 November and Mr. Gilmore assured the women that the EU remained committed to working to end caste-based violence and discrimination.
The report ‘Justice Denied: Sexual Violence and Intersectional Discrimination’ just released by Equality Now in collaboration with Swabhiman Society, looks at barriers to accessing justice for Dalit women and girls in Haryana, India. The report analyses 40 cases of sexual violence in Haryana and highlights their journey through the criminal justice system. It describes the specific barriers faced by Dalit survivors of sexual violence and presents urgent recommendations to the Indian and Haryana State Governments for taking action to end caste-based sexual violence.
The federal lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), alleges that 2 dominant caste managers at Cisco’s San Jose headquarters campus, which employs a predominantly South Asian workforce, harassed, discriminated, and retaliated against an engineer because he is a Dalit. At the end of this newsletter there are number of press clippings on this case.
IDSN fully endorses the Call to action on Labour Law changes in India, issued by the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). The statement calls on businesses sourcing in India to respond to the news that several Indian states will suspend key fundamental labour rights for a period of up to three years, under the cover of the Covid-19 crisis.
DSN members and affiliates in Nepal are raising awareness and demanding justice in a case of caste-based murder in the country that is still under Covid-19 lockdown. What started as a love story between two young people in Nepal ended in tragedy. The young man was a low caste Dalit and the woman was from a dominant caste group. It is alleged that the woman’s family did not approve of the relationship due to the man being a Dalit. As the couple wished to elope, the young man and several of his friends were attacked, beaten and chased into a river where three of them died, and another three are still missing ,according to news reports.
Asha Kowtal, General Secretary of the Dalit Women’s Movement AIDMAM-NCDHR, an IDSN member talks about the Dalit Women Fight movement in this 5-minute video made by UN Women and Google. “We are not silent. You are not silent. You are fighting. We are also fighting. We need to connect together because injustice is injustice, whether it’s your class, your caste, your sexuality or your ethnic identity.” Says Asha Kowtal in the video.
“Criminal Justice in the Shadow of Caste” is a pioneering report looking at the administration of criminal justice in India through a caste lens. The findings reveal discrimination at all levels, including within prisons. The report has been released by IDSN member, the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ-NCDHR), in collaboration with the National Centre for Dalit Human Rights.
IDSN engaged with the 39th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), held in the Palais des Nations from the 10th to the 28th of September 2018. IDSN delivered statements, lobbied Member States and OHCHR staff and met with the High Commissioner and the NGO Committee. Read a summary of IDSN's interventions in this IDSN news piece.
UN side-event hears cases of caste-based violence against Dalit women in India where UN and legal experts respond with calls for action. The report ‘Voices Against Caste Impunity: Narratives of Dalit Women in India’, was also released at the event and an outcome document with recommendations from the event has been produced.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have released a statement asking the Indian Government to end politically motivated arrests of Dalit rights activists who are simply doing their work to defend human rights in the country. IDSN continuously raises this issue in international fora and fully endorses and supports this statement.
The Concluding Observations of the May 2018 review of Nepal, by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), includes dozens of remarks relating to caste-based discrimination and several strongly worded recommendations on fighting it. Read the full IDSN analysis
The HRDA-India, a forum for the protection of human rights defenders, has issued an urgent appeal for action to protect Dalit human rights defender Mr. Rajat Kalsan. Mr Kalsan is working to help Dalits gain justice and protection from abuses as a lawyer and activist in Haryana state. He has worked on gang-rape cases and cases of attack and arson committed by dominant castes against Dalits and a host of other cases involving serious violations of human rights. The appeal states that due to this work, dominant caste leaders are colluding with local police to file false charges against Mr. Rajat and cause him serious harm.
Human Rights Defenders Alert – India (HRDA) has issued an urgent appeal for the protection of Professor Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd – a political analyst, human rights activist and one of India’s most prominent Dalit thinkers and Director of the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy. Prof. Shepherd was allegedly attempted killed in his car, has been physically attacked and is receiving death threats, but has been offered no police protection.
Survivors of rape and other forms of sexual assault in India face severe barriers to justice and are not receiving the support that the State are obligated to offer them, finds a new report by Human Rights Watch. The report raises particular concern for ‘low caste’ survivors and other marginalised groups.
Dalit and Adivasi Civil Society Organisations, Human Rights Defenders from across India met in New Delhi to discuss the status of implementation of India’s legislation to prevent atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis. There was widespread dissatisfaction among participants that key elements of the legislation were not being implemented, and a call was made asking for action to be taken by the authorities in charge.
The UK’s Indian Diaspora community are going head to head as the Government’s consultation on caste discrimination legislation is extended. In several media reports groups that are pro and anti the introduction of legislation against caste discrimination in the UK, are arguing about the impact of such a move.
IDSN member People’s Watch is fighting a legal battle in the Indian courts to regain their foreign funding license, first revoked by the Indian Government in 2012. The organisation, a program unit of the Centre for Promotion of Social Concerns [CPSC], has been charged by the Ministry of Home Affairs with “using foreign contributions to the detriment of India’s image.” The loss of the license to receive foreign funding (FCRA) has completely crippled the organisation, which has for over a decade been protecting and upholding the rights of the most disadvantaged groups in India.
Several human rights organisations in Nepal have joined forces to launch and impressive new online portal that will collect information on human rights violations relating to caste in Nepal and push for action to address them. The portal is a much-needed tool to help ensure implementation of Nepal’s legislation against caste discrimination as this form of discrimination much too often goes unpunished. The portal will also raise awareness of the needs of Dalits in Nepal and other issues affecting Dalit communities.