The report examines the current situation of Dalit children and provides information about the implementation gaps in the enforcement of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, and makes recommendations for the Committee’s examination. The observations are based on independent studies and reports, case documentation, and recommendations by other UN human rights bodies.
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.
Ten-year-olds are made to clean their school toilets by the teachers. The elders in their families cannot have tea at local stalls or a haircut at the barber’s, and they are not invited to any social event. All these because they are from a caste considered low in the local Hindu community.
It is hard to say what left a bigger scar on the Dalit residents of Rajendra Nagar locality in Sonepat recently: a violent attack on them by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh men that injured over a dozen people, or the compromise they were driven to sign promising not to seek any legal remedy against their assailants.
Government signals plan to stimulate economic growth by removing basic protections for workers and ending ban on child labour
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 alternative report on scheduled caste children in Pakistan is written by the Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN) and the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) and submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for the 72nd Pre-sessional Working Group session (5-9 October 2015) and the review of Pakistan at the 72nd Working Group session (6 May-3 June 2016). The report examines the current situation of scheduled caste (Dalit) children and provides information about the implementation gaps in the enforcement of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, and makes recommendations for the Committee’s examination. The observations are based on independent studies and reports, case documentation, and recommendations by other UN human rights bodies.
More than 75% of those out of schools are either Dalits, Adivasis or Muslims.Over 32% of those out of schools are Dalits and over 16% belong to the Adivasi communities. On further bifurcation, 3.24% of all Scheduled Castes and over 4% of all Scheduled Tribes children are out of school nationwide. This divide gets even bigger in the eastern region where more than 6.78% of ST children are out of school and in Odisha the figure is a whopping 14.81%.
An amendment to the act that was set to make child labour illegal will push millions of marginalised children in India into work rather than education
As per the victim’s statement to the police, the student was alone in her hut and cooking food when the accused— Dhiraj Yadav, his brothers Arvind and Dinesh, and their father Ram Pravesh Yadav— barged in, dragged her out, poured kerosene on her and set her on fire. “They didn’t like that I was pursuing my education because they were failing in school every year. A few months ago, Dhiraj somehow got a photograph of me and tried to blackmail me. A major altercation broke out between our families on the issue,” she was quoted as saying to the police in the community health centre. The victim was admitted with 70 per cent burn injuries.
With widespread caste discrimination and branding of communities, the effect on the rights of children can be seen in instances across the country — Dalit children being made to sweep classrooms and clean toilets at schools, eat separately and face neglect. The constant branding by teachers and classmates as the ‘other’, besides affecting the psyche of the child has been shown to increase the number of dropouts and the cycle goes on — child labour, drug abuse, alcoholism and crime. The issue of child rights is universal but the discrimination is more in India because of the socio-religious philosophy that facilitates discrimination on the basis of caste, believes social activist Vasanthi Devi, former chairperson, Institute for Human Rights Education. “Dalit children have special needs and this is not accepted by most people. Children in schools face the same issues the adults of the caste face, ” said N Thayalan, director of Human Resource Development Foundation (HRDF). Pallar, Paraiyar, and Arunthathiyar are the major Dalit groups in the State. A 2010 survey was conducted among 200 Arunthathiyar families, the group engaged in manual scavenging and considered lowest, the ‘Dalits among Dalits’. This survey conducted by the Arunthathiyar Human Rights Forum revealed that 24 per cent of children dropped out from schools, starting from Class 1 and reaching a maximum at Class 8. The top reason given by students for dropping out was slow learning followed by peer group influence, family incompetence, teachers’ attitude and a difficult syllabus.