On April 9-11 IDSN supported the Dakar Consultation on Global Partnership and Joint Actions in Addressing Discrimination based on Work & Descent – DWD, Untouchability, Contemporary Forms of Slavery and Analogous Forms of Discrimination that looked at caste and analogous forms of discrimination across the world to ensure joint actions and strategies to combat this form of discrimination. Information was shared and new initiatives formed and at the end of the consultation a Declaration was published as well as a summary report.
Conducted by leading labour experts at the University of California. Key findings: 99.3% of the workers are either Muslims or belong to a heavily subordinated community, called a “Scheduled Caste.” 99.2% of workers toil in conditions of forced labour under Indian law, which means they do not receive the state stipulated minimum wage. In fact, most workers received between 50% and 90% less than the state-stipulated minimum wages. Only a handful of males working near the city of Jaipur received proper wages for their work. 95.5% of workers are female.
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.
Most of India's trafficking problem is internal, and those from the most disadvantaged social strata – lowest caste Dalits, members of tribal communities, religious minorities, and women and girls from excluded groups – are most vulnerable. Within India, some are subjected to forced labor in sectors such as construction, steel, garment, and textile industries, wire manufacturing for underground cables, biscuit factories, pickling, floriculture, fish farms, and ship breaking. Workers within India who mine for sand are potentially vulnerable to human trafficking. Thousands of unregulated work placement agencies reportedly lure adults and children under false promises of employment into sex trafficking or forced labor, including domestic servitude.
Approximately 70 percent of trafficking victims in India belong to Scheduled Castes or Tribes – also called ‘Dalit’ classes – and are among the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups in India.
“The Cost of Cleanliness” is based on the deaths of Dalit workers engaged in cleaning sewers and septic tanks and was release to coincide with the report Justice Denied – Death of workers engaged in manual scavenging by Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan
Report by NGO Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, looking at the caste inequities underpinning manual scavenging in India and the many Dalits dying while cleaning septic tanks and sewers with no proper equipment. The findings, outlined in this summary, point to an urgent need for action to end this practice. Read the full report here. An event was held to release the report where the documentary “The Cost of Cleanliness” based on the deaths of workers engaged in cleaning sewers and septic tanks was also released.Read the summary of the report findings here.
The European Parliamentary Hearing on contemporary forms of slavery featured a presentation on caste and slavery in the supply chains of global companies by Ramesh Nathan, General Secretary of the National Dalit Movement For Justice-NCDHR, India. Ramesh pointed out the strong correlation between caste and slavery in India and urged the EU to step up action to address this in the supply chains of European companies. Read the IDSN article on the hearing here >>
Anti-Slavery delivered a statement highlighting the danger that migrant domestic workers face, particularly those who are “members of socially excluded and marginalised groups, such as indigenous people and Dalits”. The statement strongly urged States to implement the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations, especially concerning the adoption of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention, extending the coverage of national labour law and ending sponsorship systems.
IDSN, in a joint statement with Minority Rights Group (MRG), delivered a strong statement in response welcoming the report and highlighting the issues faced by Dalit women who are discriminated against, not only because of their caste, but because of their gender. These women are “particularly subject to bonded debt in the area of domestic work”. It is a practice that is prevalent in many countries in Asia and one that needs to urgently be addressed. IDSN and MRG urged the Rapporteur to continue monitoring those who are discriminated against on the basis of their caste, specifically those who are subject to servitude and modern slavery.
The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Ms. Urmila Bhoola, made a special reference to caste-affected groups in the context of discriminatory attitudes in domestic work in her report to the HRC. She urged states to increase their efforts “in addressing and preventing domestic servitude”.
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.
For centuries a hereditary system of servitude has forced members of the Haratine ethnic minority to be subjected to slavery in Mauritania, working without pay as cattle herders and domestic servants, despite an official ban. In March, Mauritania sentenced two men to 20 years in prison and one woman to 10 years in prison for enslaving their fellow citizens. These three rulings are extraordinary in the West African country, which has exceptionally few prosecutions for slavery. IDSN welcomes the verdicts as a sign of progress in the country.
Rekha’s story - Rekha Bai is a 32-year-old woman from Rajasthan, India. When she was a child she was married off to a man whose mother, because of her caste, was engaged in “manual scavenging.” Traditionally, women of the Dalit caste are obligated to empty the dry latrines of people from higher castes — with their bare hands. They must then carry the waste on their heads, in wicker baskets, to a dumpsite outside the village. Following tradition, Rekha inherited this responsibility when her mother-in-law became too old. “As payment for my labour I got just one chapatti from each household.”
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).