The caste system, a feature of Indian society for thousands of years, restricts individuals and families to particular strata of society and to particular occupations. Although the Indian Constitution outlaws discrimination on the basis of caste, the caste system itself has not been abolished, and, particularly in rural areas where the majority of the population lives, discrimination persists and is often a major contributor to oppressive and abusive practices. So while human trafficking is often described as modern slavery, the roots of the discrimination, oppression and poverty, which make Dalits so vulnerable to such exploitation, are ancient. [Read more...]
Almost a quarter of India’s population is made up from two groups classified as 'scheduled castes' and 'scheduled tribes' by the Indian government. Commonly referred to as Dalits, they fall outside the four major castes. These 250 million people are the “outcastes” of Indian society – the “untouchables” – those called the “unborn”, as it is believed that it would have been better for them had they never been born. They are considered by some to be subhuman, to be lower than animals. [Read more...]
The Dalits are among the poorest of the world’s poor; they are stripped of their basic humanity, denied fundamental human rights, and are entrenched in a system that gives them little, if any, freedom. Dalits are frequently denied access to public wells and community parks. Many restaurants use separate drinking glasses for Dalits. They are regularly unable to access life-changing education, basic health care, enter public spaces or even drink water from the same source as the higher caste community. Dalit women are often abused, and must continually fight three giants: caste, poverty and gender based discrimination.
‘Dalit’ means ‘crushed’ or ‘broken in pieces’. The Dalits have taken this name for themselves. It is symbolised by clay or mud cups that were historically used by restaurants, tea shops and train stations in India to serve Dalits separately. Dalits had to destroy the cup they had used by smashing it into pieces so that no upper caste customer would ever use it and risk ‘contamination’ by a Dalit’s ‘uncleanness.’ [Read more...]
[cry for freedom]
The Dalit cry for freedom can be heard echoing down the centuries, but in recent years it has become louder. In 2001, the cry was heard and a response was given at a significant meeting where the seeds of the Dalit Freedom Network were planted. [Read more...]
Dalits are the major victims of trafficking in India. Millions of Dalit women and children are trafficked as bonded-labourers or into brothels or beggary. [Read more...]