Following his visit to Nepal that started on 29 November, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, Olivier De Schutter, released a statement highlighting the persistent interconnections between caste and poverty in Nepal. The Rapporteur also raised issues of caste violence and the need to do more to ensure meaningful political representation of Dalit women in Nepal.
IDSN member the Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO) Nepal brought together speakers and participants from across Nepal to discuss the negative effects of caste in Nepal and strategies for action. Topics covered included food security, economic opportunities, shelter, and WASH for the Dalit community and especially Dalit women. Participants also heard about efforts already being made to mitigate the problems faced by Dalit women in Nepal.
Please join IDSN for an exclusive online preview of the upcoming, award-winning feature documentary I Am Belmaya, with live Q&A on Thurs 7 Oct with director Sue Carpenter and co-director/subject Belmaya Nepali, hosted by IDSN.
The Dalit Solidarity Network – Finland (DSNFi) celebrated its tenth anniversary as an online celebration on 16 November 2020. The celebration brought together more than thirty participants from Nepal, India, UK and many parts of Finland.
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.
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.
IDSN delivered strong statements at the UN Forum on Minority Issues on the theme “Hate Speech, Social Media and Minorities” highlighting the need to address caste-hate speech. The Forum was held in Geneva and virtually from 19-20 November 2020.
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.
IDSN strongly condemns the rapes and murders of Dalit girls and women in South Asia. The recent case of gang rape and murder of a 19-year old Dalit woman in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, has highlighted the ongoing brutality against Dalit women and the impunity with which it is administered. We stand in solidarity with Dalit women, their families and human rights defenders taking action on the ground to ensure that justice is served.
IDSN Members respond to the extremely vulnerable situation of Dalits during the Covid-19 lockdown and pandemic. We have collated some examples of reports, relief and other initiatives undertaken by IDSN members over the past two months. Read the IDSN round-up of Member initiatives
The need for more attention to be paid to intersectional caste and gender discrimination and for transforming mindsets through human rights education and awareness raising, was highlighted at the UN multi-stakeholder hearing ‘Accelerating the Realization of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of all Women and Girls’ on 21 July.
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.
“It is distressing that caste-based prejudices remain deeply entrenched in our world in the 21st century, and I am filled with sadness for these two young people who held high hopes of building a life together despite the obstacles presented by their accident of birth … Caste-based discrimination remains widespread, not only in Nepal but other countries, and often leads to serious harm and, as in this case, even loss of life. Ending caste-based discrimination is fundamental to the sustainable development vision of leaving no one behind.” Read the full statement from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. The United Nations Resident Coordinator, in Nepal, Valerie Julliand, also made several statements on Twitter on the killings.
IDSN members in South Asia and international associates have been quick to offer immediate response and assistance, as the ramifications for Dalits of Covid-19 measures have become clear. While IDSN has issued two general statements on the situation for Dalits, below you will find a collection of publicly available information, appeals and initiatives from our members and associates.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Renu Sijapati, from the Feminist Dalit Organisation – FEDO Nepal, delivered an oral statement at the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2019, encouraging Nepal to implement the recommendations in the UN Nepal visit report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women. The visit took place in October 2018.
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.