IDSN's latest newsletter on caste and human rights
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Dear IDSN newsletter reader,
Thank you for reading our newsletter and keeping yourself up to speed with the triumphs and challenges in the work to end caste discrimination. Starting from the next newsletter, we are going to be changing the format and our newsletter platform to Revue, where the news can be further integrated with IDSN’s social media channels. You will still be receiving the newsletter directly to your inbox as always and we hope to provide a less densely packed newsletter a little more frequently. We hope you will welcome the new format. So for the last time in the soon to be ‘old’ format – here are the past months stories:

The need for action on ensuring rights for Dalits in Bangladesh – highlighted at key events

The Dalit Women Conclave on caste and gender justice, and a subsequent road rally to demand the long-overdue enactment of the anti-discrimination act in Bangladesh, called for action to ensure the rights of Dalits in Bangladesh.
Read the news and reports on the events

IDSN condemns religious attacks on Dalits in Bangladesh

IDSN strongly supports the statements by our International Associates, Minority Rights Groups International and Human Rights Watch, condemning the deadly attacks on Dalits and other Hindus in Bangladesh that took place during the Durga Puja.
Read the HRW statement
Read the MRG statement

IDSN participation at the 48th session of the Human Rights Council

On the 30 September, during the Interactive Dialogue with the HRC Advisory Committee, Pradip Pariyar, from IDSN member organisation Samata Foundation in Nepal, highlighted the need for the UN system to keep engaged in eradicating caste-based discrimination. IDSN’s unjustly deferred  ECOSOC application was also raised in the interactive dialogue with UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human RightsIlze Brands Kehris.
Read the IDSN note on the HRC48

Every second surveyed Dalit and Adivasi student couldn’t access online classes: NCDHR report

A survey-based study by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR)'s Dalit Adhikari Andolan found that 56% of the surveyed students from the marginalised communities in the annual income group of Rs 20,000-40,000 were unable to access online classes. Further, 73% respondents from particularly vulnerable tribal groups were unable to access online classes in the COVID pandemic. The study was reported on at a launch event on the 19th October, but the full report titled “Confronting the Pandemic: Response and Recovering for Dalit and Adivasi students” is yet to be published. 
See key findings from the report

Recommendations: Eliminating Caste-Based Sexual Violence in India

The recommendations, published by the National Council of Women Leaders in collaboration with Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network, Equality Now, and Equality Labs, outline key steps to work towards eliminating caste-based sexual violence in India.
Read the recommendations

National Convention on Justice for Dalit Women and Girls demands action on the ‘Hathras case’ 

To mark one year of the demise of the victim of the gangrape and murder case in Hathras, India, a commemoration event was organised by women’s organisations, human rights organisations and Dalit movements collectively, including IDSN member AIDMAM-NCDHR. Speakers and participants at the event demanded urgent action to ensure justice in the case, where the family of the victim continue to suffer harassment and barriers to accessing justice.
Read the press release and demands

The impact of the caste system in Nepal discussed at national-level webinar

The Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO) in Nepal, brought together speakers and participants from across the country to discuss the negative effects of caste in Nepal and strategies for action. Topics covered in the webinar included food security, economic opportunities, shelter, and WASH for the Dalit community and especially Dalit women. Participants also heard about efforts already being made to mitigate the problems faced by Dalit women in Nepal.
Read the news in the FEDO E-bulletin

Caste added to US University’s non-discrimination policy

The College has recently added caste to its non-discrimination policy. With this, Colby has become the second educational institution in US to recognise caste in its policies. “I hope this will be a model for other schools,” said Sonja Thomas, associate professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, who spearheaded efforts to revise the policy, “What a ripple effect that could be.” IDSN welcomes the change by Colby and hopes others will follow.
Read the news story on Colby’s website

Toolkit launched to help find hidden homeworkers in apparel & footwear supply chains

Homeworkers, mainly women, are often engaged in informal tiers of apparel and footwear supply chains beyond the factory. In South Asia many of these workers are Dalits or from other marginalised groups. Their precarious employment, out of sight of auditors and inspectors, combined with weak or absent legal protections, put them at risk of exploitation, and they have some of the worst pay and conditions of any workers in the value chain. The lack of visibility of homeworkers hampers the ability of international Brands and retailers to address the issues of homeworkers within their own supply chains. The new toolkit launched by omeworkers Worldwide (HWW) and Cividep India, in collaboration with Traidcraft Exchange, under the EU co-funded Hidden Homeworkers Project offers much needed step-by-step guidance on addressing homeworkers in supply chains.
Download the toolkit

Congratulations to IDSN Associate ARISA on the 40th Anniversary

IDSN took part in a virtual lecture and event celebrating the 40th anniversary of Advocating Rights in South Asia (ARISA) where IDSN Ambassador and former Director of the organisation, Gerard Oonk, gave an inspiring lecture on the history of ARISA and their work on Dalit and labour rights. Gerard Oonk was also awarded a knights honour and orange ribbon by the Mayor of Utrecht in connection with the anniversary. The Mayor stated that the award was given for “the pioneering work he does in the field of combating child labour, exploitation of labor in developing countries and the position and treatment of the Dalits in India.”


Situation of Dalit Women in India – lecture by Abirami Jotheeswaran

"I would like to #ReImagineIndia to bring equality, justice and dignity to all women, including Dalit women," says Abirami Jotheeswaran of AIDMAM-NCDHR in her analysis of the situation of Dalit Women in India. The video lecture forms part of the Reimagining India Public Video Lecture Series.

Webinar: Caste-based Sexual Violence in South Asia (NCWL India)

A year after the Hathras gang-rape case, Dalit women from across South Asia, came together to speak out about sexual violence and to discuss the systemic changes required to #EndCasteBasedSexualViolence”. Watch the full webinar if you missed it.

Listen to Dalit women human rights defenders! (NCWL India)

“Dalit women human rights defenders across the country are working bravely and tirelessly to support survivors of sexual violence; sometimes at great risk to their own personal safety and security,’’ says Manjula Pradeep in this video featuring statements by Dalit women human rights defenders.

Selected News Headlines:

UN Report: In India, 5 out of 6 multidimensionally poor are from lower tribes or castes (Times of India)
“In India, five out of six multidimensionally poor people are from lower tribes or castes. The Scheduled Tribe group accounts for 9.4 per cent of the population and is the poorest, with 65 million of the 129 million people living in multidimensional poverty. They account for about one-sixth of all people living in multidimensional poverty in India,” it said.  The report finds that over 33 percent of scheduled castes (Dalits) in India live in multidimensional poverty. The global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative said this in its latest report on poverty. 

Challenges for Dalits in South Asia's Legal Community (American Bar Association)
“This report evaluates the lack of representation of Dalits in the justice sector and its impact on access to justice for the Dalit community at large, proposing both regional and country-specific recommendations to improve this situation.”
US govt urged to recognise caste-based discrimination on par with racialism (Counterview)
“Every day, on a covert basis, many vulnerable members of American society face caste-based discrimination that must be addressed by the U.S. legal system.”
Caste Is More Than a South Asian Problem — It Is a North American Issue
"Taking a Dalit perspective allows one to contextualize and trace caste-based dominance as something akin to the mythical nine-headed serpent, hydra — cut off one head and it grows back as two." 
A new chapter: Interview with Sandra Petersen, outgoing Executive Director (Norwegian Human Rights Fund)
“It has been a privilege and an honour to be leading and developing the unique work of the NHRF working with devoted staff in support to frontline local human rights work, defenders and networks in very challenging circumstances.”
But What Was She Wearing?: A Documentary On The Ground Realities Of Workplace Sexual Harassment (Feminism in India)
“The film touches upon the problems of women from every possible workplace – organised or unorganised. Vaishnavi ensures a comprehensive representation of the problems that women face due to their caste, religion, region and the type of industry, outside of a problematic workplace.”
A year on, India Dalit rape victim’s family waits for justice (Al Jazeera)
“The slow pace of the legal proceedings has concerned the family belonging to the Dalit community – the lowest in India’s Hindu caste hierarchy.”
1-yr since Hathras ‘gang rape’: Caste divide is deeper, memories don’t fade, drama in court (The Print)
"A year on, the family grapples with not only her loss but also the method of her last rites, the village has been further ruptured by the existing caste divide, the four accused languish in jail but the trial has been marred by allegations of “upper caste intimidation”, and the once prominent spotlight and political patronage has all but vanished."  
A virtual screening of “I am Belmaya” with a unique Q&A (DSN-UK article)
“The story of how she became the role-model she wanted to be for her child, and her newfound ability to tell the stories of those who are most marginalised in Nepalese society, make for a wonderful and incredibly moving film.”
Despite laws in place, justice still out of reach for Dalits in Nepal (The Kathmandu Post)
“Dalit activists and rights defenders say Nabaraj’s is not an isolated case. Dalits are discriminated against in every part of the country, and caste discrimination is rife even in Kathmandu, Nepal’s federal capital.”
Dalit representatives complain of social discrimination (The Kathmandu Post)
“Most of the 100 Dalit representatives of the people in the three tiers of government, who have gathered in Kathmandu to share their four years of experience, have said that the discriminatory attitude towards the community still remains deeply rooted in society and this is affecting their performance.”
‘I Am Belmaya’: When the Protagonist Tells Her Own Story (Roar news)
“She had so much to say, and this documentary was able to bring the feeling of co-presence, where the audience can feel as if they are part of her story, feeling what Belmaya is feeling, more intimately and real than any other scripted or prepared visual content.”
‘The heaven of film-making’: how a Dalit orphan got to tell her own story (The Guardian)
“As a Dalit girl, in a patriarchal country facing caste-based and sex discrimination, the odds were already stacked against her. But then both her parents died, when she was nine years old.”
Why do we only see upper caste South Asian characters? (South Asian Today)
“In the sea of “representation matters”, it is imperative to ask why the Indians taking up diversity-spaces in western and west-targeted media are all so insistently upper caste and often always North Indian?”
A Warrior In Every Way: Dalit And Transgender Activist Grace Banu (Femina)
“Dalit and transgender activist Grace Banu has broken the shackles of discrimination to inspire an entire generation.”
The Dalit activist fighting for rape survivors (BBC News)
“She is now able to focus on rape survivors as a key issue. She has now helped more than 50 Dalit rape survivors fight for justice, with many cases ending in convictions. The work has strengthened her belief that Dalit women need to be informed and trained to become respected leaders within their community.”
Black History Month: celebrating inspirational humanitarians (Anti-Slavery)
“Wilson Bezwada – an Indian activist who has tirelessly worked in eradicating the degrading practice of manual scavenging among India’s “untouchables”, the Dalits.”
Hindu family ‘tortured’ for getting water from mosque in Rahim Yar Khan (Dawn - Pakistan)
“Ram said when the family went outside a nearby mosque to fetch drinking water from a tap, some local landlords and their men beat them.”
India must consider untouchability as a form of racism: Civil society tells UN panel (Counterview)
“despite the abolition of untouchability enshrined in the Indian Constitution, and a constitutional formal prohibition of discrimination on the ground base of race or caste, under the Constitution, Dalits and other communities affected by discrimination based on descent, including Adivasis, still face de facto discrimination.”
Apply anti-atrocities Act on Dalit Muslims, Christians: UN anti-race panel tells GoI (National Herald India)
“the report seeks details on steps taken to “prevent and investigate allegations of arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, extrajudicial killings including ‘fake encounters’, and sexual and other violence against members of scheduled castes and scheduled (SCs and STs).”
‘A Weapon to Assert Power’: Dalit Women Name Measures to End Sexual Violence (The Citizen)
“The report demands measures to protect and support women and girls who survive casteist sexual violence, and those working to support them. It calls for suo moto (automatic) inquiry into every such case by a National Human Rights Commission given the power to make legally binding reforms.”
Jatin Lalit Singh (The Tryst)
“I faced many hurdles. Casteism is something I faced as villagers kept threatening to close the library in two days.”
13-year-old Dalit girl from Delhi raped, killed; landlord’s kin held (Indian Express)
“According to the girl’s father, the accused claimed that the girl had died due to illness and pressured him to cremate the body, until neighbours intervened and got him to call the police.”
Delhi rape & murder: A case of double discrimination, says Dalit activist Riya Singh (India Today)
“Dalits are definitely more vulnerable than other women in this country. Caste is important and we need to acknowledge it.”


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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