“Socio-economically deprived and landless, Dalits with Disabilities are at high risk of hunger and starvation owing to the multiple barriers to accessing basic services … During the COVID-19 pandemic, a few Dalits with Disabilities were provided with some food items as part of relief packages. However, many more were left behind in accessing these benefits due to the lack of information and the need for formal documents.”
DSN Statement – We strongly urge governments and companies with supply chains in South Asia, to take measures to urgently protect migrant and informal workers, including Dalits, against a loss of income, social benefits, shelter and a means to feed themselves and their families, as Covid-19 measures and repercussions threaten their lives and livelihoods.
A comprehensive report on the status of Dalit women in Nepal has been released by IDSN member the Feminist Dalit Organization Nepal (FEDO) with support from IDSN and Womankind. The report details the situation, challenges and recommendations within poverty, education, health, safety, political participation, Dalit women in the media and Dalit girl children in Nepal. It is clear from the report that while progress has been made, immediate and sustained action targeted at Dalit women in Nepal is crucial.
As COVID-19 sweeps across the world it is crucial that we ensure that relief, health services and awareness raising efforts are inclusive and accessible to all irrespective of caste, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other factors. While time is of the essence in the response to COVID-19, taking a moment to ensure that high risk communities such as Dalits are included and addressed in global, national and local responses to COVID-19, can save millions of lives. IDSN and its members have documented discrimination in relief in relation to numerous disasters in the past including flooding, droughts and earthquakes, where Dalits have been left behind, not provided relief materials on an equitable basis and not given equal access to healthcare, shelter or rehabilitation due to ingrained stigma and discrimination. There is a high risk that COVID-19 will also be widespread in caste-affected countries and it is therefore crucial that the unique nature of caste discrimination and the discriminatory practice of untouchability are taken into account. Therefore, Dalit communities and civil society organisations must be consulted and included in planning and implementation efforts to mitigate the serious repercussions of COVID-19. The statement issued by IDSN outlines eight key factors that make Dalits a particularly high-risk group and offers eight key recommendations for state and non-state actors.