IDSN newsletter on the struggle to end caste discrimination
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Photo: SKA - Twitter

Sanitation worker deaths spark protests demanding an end to manual scavenging in India

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. (Photo: SKA) Read more here

India: MRG & IDSN strongly condemn latest arrests of prominent human rights defenders  

On 28 August 2018, five prominent Indian human rights activists were arrested during simultaneous police raids conducted across India. The raids were part of an investigation into events that occurred earlier this year during a Dalit commemoration of an 1818 battle in Bhima Koregaon in which many Dalits lost their lives, and they follow a wider crackdown on Indian activists in recent months. IDSN and MRG strongly condemn the arrests.  Read the statement here

The UK fails to ensure legal protection against caste discrimination

In a U-turn policy change the UK Government has decided that despite reports commissioned by the Government itself finding evidence of caste-based rights violations in the UK, caste will not be included as a protected characteristic alongside race, religion and ethnicity in the UK Equalities Act. Read more here

Women subjected to caste-based attacks in India call on the UN to act

UN side-event hears cases of caste-based violence against Dalit women in India where UN and legal experts respond with calls for action. The report ‘Voices Against Caste Impunity: Narratives of Dalit Women in India’, was also released at the event and an outcome document with recommendations from the event has been produced. Read the IDSN news on the event here

Dalit women participate in the European Development days

An IDSN delegation took part in the European Development Days in Brussels from 5-6 June 2018, organized by the European Commission. The delegation included Asha Kowtal from the National Dalit Women’s movement –the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM), in India, and Renu Sijapati from the Feminist Dalit Organisation (FEDO) in Nepal. Read more here

IDSN engages with the 39th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

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 here

Senior UN official raises concern over the ‘de facto’ rejection of ECOSOC status for IDSN

In his address to the Human Rights Council, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, raised concern over the “repeated deferrals and apparent lack of transparency amounting to a de facto rejection on the granting of IDSN’s UN consultative status.” Read more here 

UN rights chief references the unjust 10-year deferral of IDSN’s application for UN ECOSOC accreditation in his annual report to the UN Human Rights Council

The now former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights presented his Annual Report to the UN Human Rights Council. The report features concern over the continuous deferral of applications for UN consultative status from civil society organisations and includes direct reference to IDSN’s application, which has been unjustly deferred by the UN NGO Committee for 10 years. Read more here

Joint NGO statement for meeting between the NGO Committee and accredited NGOs

IDSN and 257 other NGOs issued a statement for the meeting between the ECOSOC NGO Committee and accredited NGOS, raising concern over the “practices of the Committee that have inappropriately blocked the participation of some NGOs, in particular human rights NGOs, through procedural tactics including perpetual and repetitive questioning of applicants." Read more here

EU High Representative asked to outline how the EU intends to support IDSN’s application for UN consultative status

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, has been asked by a Member of the European Parliament, Jean Lambert, to outline any specific steps that the EU has taken to proactively support IDSN’s Consultative Status at the UN to date and what plans exist for future support. Read more here

Five female anti-trafficking activists kidnapped and raped in India – EU responds

The EU High Representative on Foreign Affairs has reiterated the EU’s commitment to fighting caste-based discrimination and gender-based violence, following the rape of five female anti-trafficking activists in India, earlier this summer. The women were performing a play against human trafficking in Jharkhand state when they were abducted and gang-raped. Read more here

EU Parliamentary Q&A on EU action on caste-based discrimination and the EU-India summit 

Members of the European Parliament have asked the EU High Representative on Foreign Affairs to respond on how caste discrimination was addressed at the EU-India Summit. Read the question and answer here

Regional conference on equal access to justice calls for action to end caste discrimination

IDSN member the Feminist Dalit Organisation – FEDO, in collaboration with Nepal Human Rights Commission and Open Society Justice Initiative, organised a three-day conference on "Equal access to justice for all: Using law to dismantle caste based discrimination in South Asia." This was attended by national human rights practitioners and advocates from the region, key state champions and regional actors to highlight the state and national efforts to advance the rights of Dalit and marginalized communities. The practitioners shared their experiences, examples of how organizations and coalitions are implementing wide-ranging changes to advance justice, and discuss ways that legal advocates and community partners can collaborate across organizations and coalitions to forge a way forward. Participants released a declaration from the conference and a report has also been produced. Read more here

Vulnerability Mapping: Project to include those excluded in Kerala flood relief operations

IDSN member National Dalit Watch-NCDHR has taken part in a vulnerability mapping initiative, identifying areas where marginalised communities in four districts of Kerala have been excluded from the rescue operations and relief activities following devastating flooding in the area. IDSN members in India are responding to the reports of discrimination with relief measures, fact-finding and supporting those affected by the flooding, to claim their rights. Read more here

Australian Parliament passes motion on caste-based discrimination

The Australian Parliament has passed a landmark motion urging the Government to take action on fighting caste-based discrimination. Read more here

The need to address caste-based violence highlighted in international annual human rights reports

The newly released Human Rights Watch World Report 2018, Amnesty International Report 2018 and the US State Department reports on India and Nepal, find that caste-based discrimination and violence remain serious threats as hate crimes against Dalits are widespread. Some of the other themes raised in the reports include discrimination in accessing services, ´manual scavenging´ and bonded labour. Read more here

Declaration for the Elimination of Descent-Based Discrimination (2018)

Prior to the International Symposium on UN Guidance Tool on Descent-Based Discrimination in Tokyo. IMADR and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) held the International Consultation for the Elimination of Descent- Based Discrimination in Osaka on 9 April. The Consultation was attended by representatives from Dalit civil society in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, leaders of Buraku Liberation League (BLL), the former UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues and a representative from the OHCHR. As an outcome document of the consultation, Dalit and Buraku civil society organisations adopted the “Declaration for the Elimination of Descent-Based Discrimination”. Download the full declaration here

Dalit rights activists break new ground in South Asia (UN Women)

UN Women feature a profile of Dalit activist, Moni Rani Das, and the struggle for Dalit rights and women’s rights in Bangladesh. Read the UN Women feature here

Coalition for Dalits to submit guidelines on discrimination in schools

The National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) is formulating guidelines, for the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in India, on how to prevent caste-based violence in schools as part of its campaign of achieving zero discrimination. Read more here

New Reports:


India and Sustainable Development Goals through the perspective of Dalit Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction: A Situational Study (ADRF)


Problems persist in South Asian textile industry (ICN)

EU: Human Rights Report country chapters highlight caste

The 2018 EU Human Rights Report highlights caste in many relevant country chapters. Please find the relevant passages highlighted in each chapter Bangladesh Chapter / Pakistan Chapter / Nepal Chapter / India Chapter / Sri Lanka Chapter.




#Dalitwomenfight documentary video

Documentary on manual scavenging in India
The Wire speaks to rehabilitated manual scavengers as identified by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and finds their condition and profession unchanged. Read more here

Press Clippings


Won’t back off: New turn to India’s caste conflicts (Hindustan Times)


Why we need the term Dalit (Indian Express)


Dalit women’s rights activists to present accounts of caste violence at UNHRC (Indian Express)


Bringing justice close: an experiment in accessing justice with technology (Open Global Rights)


The deaths of five workers cleaning a sewage tank are a blot on India’s capital (


India Should Recognise That Manual Scavenging Is Akin to Slavery (TheWire)


'Society Needs Us, But Only For Cleaning Others' Dirt' (The Wire)


Dalit women are brewing their own social revolution (Livemint)


India not free 71 years on, rising inequality, unemployment to blame (National Herald India)


In Meerut, People – Including Children – Were Arrested for Being Dalit (The Wire)


'Call Me Priya': film sparks debate about India textile industry abuses (


Cabinet clears Bill to restore the provisions of SC/ST Act (The Hindu)




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.
Copyright © 2018 International Dalit Solidarity Network, All rights reserved.