India and Dalits

Linked with Business and castes in India.

Published on Human Rights Watch HRW, February 13, 2007.

3 Excerpts: India: ‘Hidden Apartheid’ of Discrimination Against Dalits, Government Fails to End Caste-Based Segregation and Attacks India has systematically failed to uphold its international legal obligations to ensure the fundamental human rights of Dalits, or so-called untouchables, despite laws and policies against caste discrimination, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today (February 13, 2007). More than 165 million Dalits in India are condemned to a lifetime of abuse simply because of their caste …

… On December 27, 2006 Manmohan Singh became the first sitting Indian prime minister to openly acknowledge the parallel between the practice of ‘untouchability’ and the crime of apartheid. Singh described ‘untouchability’ as a ‘blot on humanity’ adding that ‘even after 60 years of constitutional and legal protection and state support, there is still social discrimination against Dalits in many parts of our country’.

‘Prime Minister Singh has rightly compared ‘untouchability’ to apartheid, and he should now turn his words into action to protect the rights of Dalits’, said Professor Smita Narula, faculty director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at New York Unive’The Indian government can no longer deny its collusion in maintaining a system of entrenched social and economic segregation’ …

… The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and Human Rights Watch call on CERD to scrutinize the gap between India’s human rights commitments and the daily reality faced by Dalits. In particular, CERD should request that the Indian government:

  • Identify measures taken to ensure appropriate reforms to eliminate police abuses against Dalits and other marginalized communities;
  • Provide concrete plans to implement laws and government policies to protect Dalits, and Dalit women in particular, from physical and sexual violence;
  • Identify steps taken to eradicate caste-based segregation in residential areas and schools, and in access to public services;
  • Outline plans to ensure the effective eradication of exploitative labor arrangements and effective implementation of rehabilitation schemes for Dalit bonded and child laborers, manual scavengers, and for Dalit women forced into prostitution.

“International outrage over the treatment of Dalits is matched by growing national discontent”, Smita Narula said. “India can’t ignore the voices of 165 million citizens”. ‘Hidden Apartheid’ is based on in-depth investigations by CHRGJ, Human Rights Watch, Indian non-governmental organizations, and media sources. The pervasiveness of abuses against Dalits is corroborated by the reports of Indian governmental agencies, including the National Human Rights Commission, and the National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. These and other sources were compiled, investigated, and analyzed under international law by NYU School of Law’s International Human Rights Clinic.

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