In August 2020, Global March Against Child Labour released an evidence-based report, providing an overview of the situation of child labour with a gender lens in sugarcane harvesting in India. The report highlights that children are pushed into hazardous child labour due to structural poverty among harvesters, most of whom are from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, also referred to as DBA (Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi/Tribal) in this article, because of exploitative hiring practices resulting in debt bondage. It was found that traditional gender-based norms contributed significantly to child labour by normalising unequal wages and unpaid family work.
Sanitation workers have long been marginalised across South Asia because of stigma around the nature of their work and discrimination based on caste, ethnicity and religion. The COVID-19 pandemic magnified the considerable occupational and health hazards they already faced, leaving many working with limited protection and almost no formal guidance or support. To understand the nature and extent of the challenges sanitation workers have faced during lockdowns, we facilitated studies in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, through telephone interviews with sanitation workers and key informants. The study revealed common insights
This report presents the findings of a study that examined nine case studies of sanitation workers in low- and middle-income countries, predominantly focusing on emptying pits and tanks, providing transportation of fecal sludge, and performing sewer maintenance. It is an initial analysis into a growing body of work on sanitation workers, but already the findings highlight several action areas to ensure that efforts in reaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 6.2 and 6.3 do not com- promise the dignity, health, and rights of the work- force. Collecting data from literature and key informant interviews, the nine cases provide an overview of the key challenges sanitation workers face. The report also addresses good practices and suggests areas for action.
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.
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.
Several academicians, activists and politicians have warned against the caste repercussions of moves by certain states to dilute the laws in a bid to attract investors and manufacturers with the economy in dire straits amid the Covid-19 lockdown.
In Pakistan, descendants of lower-caste Hindus who converted to Christianity centuries ago still find themselves marginalized, relegated to dirty jobs and grim fates.
Indian waste pickers are struggling to obtain information or equipment to inform and protect them during the coronavirus pandemic. Thomson Reuters has run this article by IDSN Ambassador Aidan McQuade and IDSN’s Ritwajit Das, looking at the current challenges faced by Dalit waste pickers in India. While this article looks at India, similar situations are found in other South Asian countries.
Manjula Pradeep, human rights activist and founder of Wayve Foundation on caste and women's labour speaks about the unique situtation of Dalit women in relation to labour and modern slavery.
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.
Henri Tiphagne, member of the IDSN board, represented IDSN in the Global Consultation on National Human Rights Institutions and access to remedy (Project on the Role of NHRIs in facilitating access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses), on the 10 and 11 October. This consultation is part of an ongoing project of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) about accountability for human rights. violations and abuses committed by corporations.
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.
Poverty and caste discrimination mean that children in Sagar Gram are being groomed by their own families for abuse