IDSN's latest newsletter on caste and human rights
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Exclusive preview screening of ‘I am Belmaya’ – a Dalit woman’s transformative journey in Nepal

Please join IDSN for an exclusive online preview of the upcoming, award-winning feature documentary I Am Belmaya, with live Q&A on Thurs 7 Oct with director Sue Carpenter and co-director/subject Belmaya Nepali, hosted by IDSN.
This is your chance to see this beautiful, inspirational film, set in Nepal, before it is released to the public. A story 14 years in the making, I Am Belmaya follows an uneducated young Dalit woman’s transformational journey to award-winning documentary filmmaker.
Get your ticket here

Rise in sexual violence targeting Dalit women and girls

Dalit women and girls are disproportionately targets of sexual violence and the Covid pandemic has only exacerbated this. The latest horrific cases of rape and murder of Dalit women and girls are just the tip of the iceberg. IDSN charts the disturbing trend in this article. 
Read the full IDSN article

The EU calls on the UN NGO Committee to end “unjust” 10-year deferral of IDSN’s application

In a European Union statement delivered by Mr. Christophe Forax, First Counsellor, at the 75th United Nations General Assembly Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations 2021 Resumed Session, the EU called to end the unjust deferrals of applications for UN ECOSOC status, naming five organisations, including IDSN.

IDSN has issued a factsheet and a detailed note including the 100 questions and answers. IDSN welcomes the support from the EU and hope that others will also join in ending these deferrals and ensuring that the NGO Committee’s purpose is to foster participation of legitimate NGOs and not to block them.
Read the full IDSN article on the statement

India’s health inequality severely affects Dalits

Dalits and members of India’s other marginalised communities are lagging behind more privileged groups in terms of health and access to healthcare, Oxfam India reports. The gap has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following indicators mentioned in the Oxfam report illustrate the difference between the health situation of Dalits and members of dominant castes.
  • On average, a woman from a dominant caste lives 15 years longer than a Dalit woman.
  • Two out of three households in the general category have access to improved, non-shared sanitation facilities, while the percentage for Dalit households is only 37.2.
  • The literacy rate for women in the general category is 80.9 compared to appr. 62 percent for Dalit women.
  • Infant mortality rates (IMR) among Dalits are significantly higher than those of more privileged groups. The Dalit IMR is appr. 45 (deaths in 1,000) compared to 32 for the general category.
  • Sixty percent of India’s Dalit children are anaemic – compared to a national average of 50 percent.
  • The number of stunted children in Dalit and Adivasi households are consistently high compared to other castes. The percentage in Dalit households is almost 43 compared to 31 in general category households.
  • Although average medical expenditure has increased across all social groups in India, significant inequality persists. The expenditure incurred by the general category was 1.7 times higher than that incurred by Dalits in 2017-18, roughly the same as in 2004.
Read the full IDSN article

Champion of tribal (and Dalit) rights dies following imprisonment

Father Stan Swamy, 84, a courageous and dedicated campaigner for the rights of India’s indigenous Adivasi community, has died from Covid-19 complications. He had been imprisoned on terrorism charges since October 2020.
Read the IDSN article

‘Can justice be bought?’ seminar assesses Norway’s new Transparency Act and how stakeholders can address caste discrimination in supply chains

IDSN Executive Director, Meena Varma, spoke on the all-female panel of the live-streamed event organised by The Norwegian Church on July 31, to discuss the deep structural injustices characterising global production, consumption and trade, and what consequences these injustices have on the most vulnerable.
Read the IDSN article on the event

Addressing caste-hate speech in a global context: Brief and recommendations for UN and EU actors

IDSN has published a briefing paper for UN and EU actors on caste-hate speech which includes key recommendations for addressing caste-hate speech in a global context.
Read the brief and recommendations


IDSN issues recommendations for the 48th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

IDSN has issued key recommendations to the UN member states for the 48th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council (13 September – 8 October 2021).

IDSN engages with the UN Human Rights Council 47th session on caste, women’s rights and the UPR of Nepal

IDSN issued recommendations to States, contributed to statements and observed and noted caste-relevant issues presented at the UN Human Rights Council 47th Session held in Geneva.

IDSN input to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

The joint input is in connection with the Special Rapporteur’s report to be presented at the 50th session of the Human Rights Council. The submission documents key cases where caste discrimination impacts negatively on the freedom of association and assembly in Nepal and India. 

Joint Civil Society Contribution to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

IDSN issued a joint submission for the adoption of the List of Issues prior to the CERD committee reporting on India.

Joint submission from IDSN and IMADR to the Special Rapporteur on Racism

The submission is in connection with the Special Rapporteurs report on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA).


Dalits work in slavery-like conditions in India's cotton seed production (ARISA)

The report Seeds of Oppression by ARISA describes slavery-like conditions in Gujarat's cotton seed industry.

Workers, many of them Dalits, produce cotton seed, yet receive no wages and owe the landowner debts.
Read the caste recommendations from the report

Leave No Woman Behind Global report (NCDHR and others)

The joint report Leave No Woman Behind: Impact of COVID-19 on Women and Girls has been published by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) and other partners highlighting caste discrimination and other forms of intersectional discrimination. 
Read the report

Minority and Indigenous Trends 2021 - Lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic (Minority Rights Group)

The global report highlights caste discrimination including survey findings from Nepal that over 80 per cent were financially distressed due to Covid-19 as well as highlighting the plight of Dalit migrant workers and sanitation workers. 
Read the report from MRG

Tied Hands: Fact Finding Mission Report on Harawa-Charawa: Debt, Poverty and Climate Change in Dhanusha, Nepal (FORUM-ASIA)

New report examines persistent bonded labour in Nepal where the majority of bonded labourers are found to be Dalits.This research was conducted as a joint effort between FORUM-ASIA and its Nepali member, the Community Self Reliance Centre (CSRC). The research is focussed on Harawa-Charawa, a Nepalese community living in conditions of bonded labour in a country that remains amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Download the report


National Council of Women Leaders (NCWL) campaign to end caste-based sexual violence

The newly formed NCWL have published videos, reports, statements and social media content as part of a campaign to end caste-based sexual violence.

Visit and follow their campaign activities on Twitter and watch their videos on YouTube to learn more.
Read the campaign press release

Global Advocacy Group of  ‘Committee for Elimination of Caste Discrimination within Indian Church’(GAC-CECDIC) contributes to UN CERD Review

GAC-CECDIC issued a submission for the adoption of the List of Issues of Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) prior to reporting on India. 
Read the GAC-CECDIC submission 


The Californian Democratic party adds ‘caste’ as a protected category (DSN-UK)

The California Democratic Party has made history by adding 'caste' to its list of protected categories. 
Read the DSN-UK article


The UK House of Lords Debate on India and Human Rights (DSN-UK)

Dalits, human rights and the denial of justice were central elements in the UK House of Lords debate in July 2021. 
Read the DSN-UK summary of the debate 


Nyay ko khoji ma: Documentary from FEDO - Nepal (NCWL India)

A documentary by IDSN member the Feminist Dalit Organisation Nepal (FEDO) following the plight of Munni Nepali, a Dalit woman accused of witchcraft, and a victim of severe social injustice.
Watch the documentary 


Remembering Dr Gail Omvedt: Taking a Perspective of ‘Land, Caste, Class & Gender’ to the Global Audience (CHDD)

A tribute to Professor Gail Omvedt, a leading Dalit activist and scholar who sadly passed away, was held by the Center for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD). There are videos and podcasts available from the event.
Read about the event 


ICDR and Civil Rights groups demand Department of Justice to recognize and enforce Caste as already covered by Civil Rights Laws (ICDR press release)

The International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR International), together with the National Coalition Against Caste Discrimination and other civil rights groups, submitted a policy memo demanding the U.S. Department of Justice recognize that civil rights laws prohibit caste-based discrimination in the United States and integrate and enforce this recognition into civil rights and non-discrimination guidelines.
Read the ICDR press release 


How do we build a caste-sensitive internet? (Lecture series)

How is the centuries-old practice of caste being re-manifested in today’s digital cultures? How can we make a truly caste-sensitive media and internet? To understand caste and explore how our approaches to it must reflect its current realities, APC hosted a series of lectures titled “Decolonising media, communication and technology studies: An (anti)caste perspective”.The series was presented by Dr. Murali Shanmugavelan
Watch the lecture series

Selected News Headlines:

The Never-Ending Plight Of Dalits (
Article exploring the marginalization and destitutions faced by Dalits in Pakistan including video interviews and in-depth reporting.
Forgotten Issues of Sanitation Workers in Pakistan (The Knowledge Forum)
“Demeaning terms are often used to refer to the sanitation workers. The tags of religion, caste and low-grade work add to their vulnerability, causing a sense of exclusion from society.”
Anti-Black Racism in Yemen: Manifestations and Responses (Arab Reform Initiative)
"Anti-Black Racism is still very present in Yemen, with a discriminatory caste system that is based on skin colour. Nevertheless, there are initiatives and solutions being put forward to combat this and ways in which awareness is being raised. This paper seeks to explore the dynamics of anti-Black racism in Yemen and how resistance against this is expressed, as well as the obstacles activists face and ways to overcome these in the future."
Nepal’s caste struggle (Nepali Times)
“The 1990 Constitution outlawed caste-based discrimination and untouchability. But historically, most laws remain on paper only. Violations mostly go unpunished.”
An open letter to the Prime Minister, Minister for Women & Child Development and Minister of Social justice & empowerment from Members of the European Parliament (Nouripour)
“We, the Members of Parliament, would like to express our utmost concern regarding the rising number of grave incidents of rape and sexual violence against Dalit women and girls, which have been taking place in India over the last few years.”
India must consider untouchability as a form of racism: Civil society tells UN panel (Counterview)
“While India is a signatory to the anti-race resolution, it refuses to recognise caste at par with race, the civil society, in its report, submitted last month, has offered a large number of questions which CERD should be asking the Union government on how Dalit, Adivasis and other oppressed sections are being discriminated against based on specific Articles of the UN Charter.”
Minor Dalit Girl Raped in UP Village, Couple Booked (News 18)
“A case was registered against a couple following court’s order in connection with the alleged rape of a 16-year-old Dalit girl in a village here, police said Sunday.”
Fourth day of protests after 9-year-old girl allegedly raped and murdered in Indian capital (CNN)
“Those in low-ranking and oppressed castes -- about 201 million people out of India's 1.3 billion population, according to government figures -- are especially vulnerable, say human rights organizations and activists.”
Dalit Women In India Are Facing A Sexual Violence Epidemic — & Fighting Back  (Refinery 29)
“In India, women and girls from the Dalit community experience incredibly high rates of sexual violence. India’s caste system, which functions like a social hierarchy, imposes positionality at birth and has been in place for thousands of years.”
80% of sexual violence against Dalit women committed by dominant caste men: Report (National Herald)
“This report finds that not only are Dalit women and girls in Haryana effectively denied access to justice in cases of sexual violence due to the prevalent culture of impunity, particularly when the perpetrators are from a dominant caste but that there are indications Dalit women and girls are specifically targeted for rape by dominant caste men who can rely on such impunity.”
Three cops dismissed from service over custodial death of dalit woman in Telangana (Times of India)
“A sub-inspector and two constables of Addagudur police station, who were placed under suspension a month ago in relation to the custodial death of a 48-year-old dalit woman, have been dismissed from the service by Rachakonda commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat.”
Gang rape exposes caste violence in India and the limits of Me Too (The Conversation)
“Although India’s caste system was officially outlawed in 1950, caste-based discrimination is still very much in practice. It positions Dalit women at the bottom of the social hierarchy and normalizes rape and sexual violence by upper-caste men.”
It is time for a new subfield: ‘Critical Caste Studies’ (LSE Blog)
“The global academy is in need of a new interdisciplinary field, Critical Caste Studies, in order to rethink caste-power in civil society, state, and academy in India and overseas, argues Gajendran Ayyathurai.”
Catholic Bishop, AJV Obinna seeks end to ‘Osu’ caste system in Igboland (Daily Post)
“Osu caste system is a social evil, saying that the practice, has dehumanized people in his community”
Indian Dalits urge Vatican tribunal to end discrimination (SARIM)
“Marginalized community highlights lack of representation in the Church due to casteism.”
Indian Dalits urge Vatican tribunal to end discrimination (UCA News)
“Huge numbers converted to Christianity and Islam over the decades, though in reality the religions offer limited protection from societal prejudice.”
Islam Calls Out Caste-Based Discrimination, But Reality Is Far From Otherwise (YKA)
“Now, casteism is prevalent not just among the Indian Muslims, but across south Asia. For instance, marriage is an area where caste plays a major role in Muslim communities. The majority of Muslims prefer to get married within their own caste group.”
Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation (Pew Research Center)
“Although caste discrimination may not be perceived as widespread nationally, caste remains a potent factor in Indian society.”
Sewer deaths throw light on violations (The Hindu)
“Tuesday night’s accident in which two labourers died after getting into the sewerage lines of GHMC takes the lid off the saga of negligence by contractors and government officials towards human lives.”
Occupational Safety of Sanitation Workers Is Not Just a Technical Problem (The Wire)
“In several cities, on-site systems (like pit latrines, septic tanks) are still cleaned manually which is a violation of both the Manual Scavenging Act, 2013, and of human rights.”
Caste census: Why is the government opposing it in 2021? (Inventiva)
“The presence of data helps a researcher or a policymaker determine its target and directs the course of policies. Not collecting data is like closing your eyes and believing that the world is bright, sunny and full of happiness… A caste-based census will help us to determine the economic deprivation levels of different castes in various states.”
The pandemic has worsened India’s poverty crisis (Indian Express)
“Across social categories, a higher percentage of people from marginalised groups are expected to fall into poverty than the other groups. For instance, at an all-India level, around 13-20 per cent of additional SC/ST people are expected to fall into poverty as compared to 12-16 per cent of upper caste people making total HCR for the group reaching a whopping 60-70 per cent.”
The unravelling of a conspiracy: were the 16 charged with plotting to kill India’s prime minister framed? (The Guardian)
“In 2018, Indian police claimed to have uncovered a shocking plan to bring down the government. But there is mounting evidence that the initial conspiracy was a fiction – and the accused are victims of an elaborate plot.”
Caste Slur At Hockey Player Vandana Katariya's Family, 1 Arrested: Report (NDTV)
“A man was arrested from the Roshnabad area of Uttarakhand's Haridwar district for allegedly making a mockery of and passing casteist remarks against the family of Vandana Katariya who was part of India's women's hockey team which lost to Argentina in a semifinal match at the Tokyo Olympics, police said on Thursday.”
Tiruchy: 9-ft ‘untouchability wall’ pops up near Scheduled Caste colonies (The New Indian Express)
“Residents of Rajiv Gandhi Nagar have condemned the caste Hindus for discriminating against them on the basis of caste.”
What Arivu's 'Enjoy Enjaami' Tells Us About the Cultural Resistance to Caste (The Wire)
“The song is a remarkable lyrical and musical intervention that takes us one step closer to annihilating caste.”
Exhibition “Educate. Agitate. Organise.” (London School of Economics)
“He spoke at conferences, petitioned for political rights, and helped organise Dalit communities. Among many of his activities was the founding of the Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha (‘Group for the Wellbeing of the Excluded’) whose motto frames this exhibition: “Educate, Organise, Agitate”.”


About us

The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) works on a global level for the elimination of caste discrimination and similar forms of discrimination based on work and descent.
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