UN experts spoke out about the links between discrimination and slavery at the webinar “Contemporary Slavery & Racial Discrimination: Civil Society Support to Survivors during the Pandemic” organised by the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, the Geneva Human Rights Platform and the UK Mission in Geneva, on 2 December. Several experts raised concern over caste discrimination and caste-based occupations as well as the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable groups.
Study: Dalits and Adivasis working under hazardous conditions in India’s stone industry Dangerous working conditions, debt bondage and below minimum wages are some of the findings of the study ‘Between a rock and a hard place‘ released by the Dutch-based human rights NGO Arisa. In the quarries surveyed in Rajasthan, it was found that over 60% of the workers were Adivasis or Dalits.IDSN welcomes the study and urges companies to address the issues identified urgently, including looking at the marginalisation of Dalits and Adivasis as a key contributor to their exploitation in the sector.
DSN leaves its mark on the UN Business and human rights forum with a very popular stand, highlighting the links between caste and human rights violations in global supply chains. At the stand Dalit human rights defender Ankita Paudel from IDSN member organization, Feminist Dalit Organisation – Nepal (FEDO), and IDSN staff, spoke with participants to improve their understanding and urge them to take action. Ms. Paudel also took part in key events at the forum and made connections with other relevant stakeholders. The IDSN Director, Meena Varma, also gave a snapshot presentation on what Governments can do to start addressing these issues with businesses and IDSN Ambassador, Gerard Oonk, made important new connections and raised awareness of key stakeholders.
Human rights issues related to caste in global supply chains was a key theme at the seminar on vulnerable workers, held in Copenhagen on 12 November, organised by IDSN, the Danish Ethical Trading Initiative (DIEH) and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) in the UK. ETI Director, Peter McAllister launched the ETI Caste in Global Supply Chains guidance at the seminar saying. “I am proud and honoured to be here to launch the ETI Base Code Guidance on Caste in Global Supply Chains today … caste underpins so many elements of vulnerability that we must engage with caste issues if we want to address vulnerability,” Mr. McCallister stated.
A new report by Homeworkers Worldwide finds Dalit women working in global leather supply chains being subjected to discrimination, insecure work, low wages and labour rights abuses, including sexual harassment.
IDSN has contributed to the UN Human Rights Council’s 42nd Session with two joint statements with Minority Rights Group International (MRG) on slavery and on safe drinking water and sanitation. IDSN also issued specific recommendations aimed at states and circulated by IDSN.
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.
An extensive study on home-based garment workers in India found 99 per cent of workers toiled in conditions of forced labor under Indian law, with over 99 per cent of the workers found to be either Dalits or Muslims. The prevalence of child labour was over 15 per cent and many cases of bonded labour were also documented. 85 per cent of the workers supplied global brands.The report “Tainted Garments: The Exploitation of Women and Girls in India’s Home-based Garment Sector” was conducted by leading labour experts at the University of California.
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.
Dalits in India have for centuries been forced into working without proper tools or protective gear to clean dry latrines, sewers and septic tanks, a practice known as ‘manual scavenging’. This is not only demeaning but also extremely dangerous work and activists have been campaigning for many years for the proper implementation of laws banning the practice and rehabilitating those who have been engaged in it. This past month it has been uncovered that in the Delhi municipality alone, there has been an alarmingly high number of deaths of sanitation workers lowered into the city’s sewers with no equipment to protect them. Activists are sending the message that India must #stopkillingus and that the caste-based practice must end now.
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.
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.
Rights defenders in India are calling on the Indian Government to outline a concrete action plan within one month to end the dangerous and demeaning practice of manual scavenging. The call comes following the death of 27 manual scavengers in India within the span of one month, outlined in a press release by rights NGO Safai Karmchari Andolan (SKA).
Despite efforts to curb child slavery in India’s spinning mills the practice continues and 60% of the victims are Dalits – says newly released report.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) commenced its 33rd session on 13 September. This year the report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences has a thematic focus on debt bondage. The rapporteur notes that “the majority of those in debt bondage are reported to be in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, despite the specific prohibition on such practices within the legal frameworks of these countries”, underlining that those who are trapped in debt bondage in South Asia are predominantly Dalits.
The new report ‘Cotton’s Forgotten Children’, released by the Stop Child Labour Campaign and the India Committee on the Netherlands (ICN), finds that almost half a million children in India work as child labourers in the cottonseed production industry. Most of them are Dalits, Adivasis or other low caste children (OBCs). The report warns that most of these children are not in school and are subjected to hazardous work and harmful chemicals.
An amendment to India’s new Child Labour Prohibition Act that seeks to permit children under 14 to work in ‘family enterprises’, has been proposed by the Government. Child rights activists in India, including Nobel prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, say that the amendment will push millions of children into child labour and thereby out of an education, particularly Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim children.
The newly released Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 and the Amnesty International 2014-15 report find that caste discrimination persists with adverse effects to human rights on multiple levels. Serious obstacles to access to justice, discrimination in education and access to services and caste-based violence, including rape of Dalit women, are among the key themes addressed in the reports. These concerns are also noted in the latest India and Nepal reports of the US State Department.