Despite being prohibited in many countries, slavery is widespread in South Asia. Forced and bonded labour, resulting in a loss of control over labour conditions and terms of work, is often interlinked with the caste system and related types of customary feudal agricultural relationships.
IDSN Response to EU Call for Evidence in the framework of the drafting of an EU forced labour Instrument
IDSN and the UN OHCHR Minority section brought together an experts’ round table discussion to mark the 30th Anniversary of the UN Minority mandate.
Survey by the SR on contemporary forms of slavery
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.
In Pakistan, sanitation workers face dangerous and dreadful conditions everyday. Unfortunately, not much has changed for sanitation workers in the country over the last many decades. An increasing numbers of sanitation workers continue to lose their lives to poor sanitation planning and management.
The Global Slavery Index estimates that 3,186,000 people are held in modern forms of slavery in Pakistan, ranking the country at 8th place among the world’s 167 nations with the highest prevalence of modern slavery. The most common form of modern slavery prevalent in Pakistan is bonded labour, mainly in agriculture and brick kilns sectors (production of bricks).
Two years ago, the centennial International Labour Organisation (ILO) conference agreed that occupational health and safety should become a fundamental right at work. The death toll of work – five people every minute of every hour of every day around the world – was so tragic that action was needed.
Need and objectives for EU intervention on sustainable corporate governance
The Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC), a leading human rights organization in the country, documented 5,543 victims of human rights violations in 2020.
Manual pit-emptying – the removal of faecal sludge from pits and tanks using hands or basic tools – is a widespread practice in Bangladesh, and in other low- and middle-income countries. Despite this, little is known about the livelihoods of pit-emptiers. This paper analyses data from six cases of pit-emptying in three cities in Bangladesh, across three different operational modes: private cooperatives, government employees and self-employed workers.
A survey of domestic workers revealed across six northeastern Indian states, a large majority of maids, cooks and other domestic staff worked seven days a week and were not given a single day of annual leave without having their pay docked.
“Low-grade, unskilled sanitation workers often face social stigma and discrimination. This is especially true when sanitation is linked to a caste-based structure and often allocated to castes perceived to be lower in the caste hierarchy, such as in India and Bangladesh, where sanitation work is perceived to belong to the Dalit caste. This stigma compounds the social ostracizing and limitations on social mobility that workers face and often results in intergenerational discrimination, where children of sanitation workers often struggle to escape the vicious cycle of limited opportunities and sanitation work.” “[In Bangladesh] Many live in segregated sweeper colonies, which are unhygienic slumlike areas offering poor and overcrowded living conditions. Dalits (low-caste Hindus) and Christian and Muslim Bengalis” "challenges include combating the systemic discrimination Dalits face, which affects their education and real opportunities to become entrepreneurs, and the multiple layers of subcontracting that enable manual scavenging to continue without oversight or enforcement of laws by local authorities"
The International Labour Organisation have now released the ILO Resource Handbook, a very useful tool in combating caste-based forced labour, and have also made a short summary of the handbook.
REPORT - Caste and Gender-Based Forced and Bonded Labour from UN HRC29 IDSN SIDE-EVENT 18th June 2015, 17.00-18.30
Briefing note including cases and quotes.
Author: Ashwini Deshpande, Professor of Economics at the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. Prepared in collaboration with International Labour Organization (ILO) for the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN).This study argues that a greater socio-economic diversity in the workforce at all levels of employment, by which we mean greater representation or inclusion of groups which have been traditionally marginalized, such as Dalits, and under-represented in organized employment, will not only have extremely positive repercussions for society as a whole, but more importantly,would make good business sense.
There was a strong will from multiple stakeholders to help rehabilitate former manual scavengers at the ‘National Consultation on Rehabilitation of Manual Scavenger’s and Role of the Government, UN agencies, Public and Private Sector, CSR and Civil Societies’ consultation held in New Delhi.
Convened by the United Nations Development Programme, six UN agencies including IFAD, ILO, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women are working together to help accelerate inclusion of Dalit and Adivasi issues and access to rights in national and state policy and planning processes.