Did you know that India has more slaves than all other countries have together?
Did you know that more than 200 million people in India are traditionally regarded as untouchable and live in the shadow of the wealthy and high-technological society as India is today? Did you know that every day, 1.3 million people in India are forced to clean human excrement with their bare hands?
Dalit means beaten into pieces or smashed, and refers to those who fall outside any of the four castes of the Hindu caste system, and the Dalits are history’s longest standing oppressed people.
This group of people designated as Dalits are denied the right to education and healthcare. In many areas in India, Dalits are denied to enter the police station, denied access to the national security system that is supposed to stand up, represent and help people in need. The socially and economically vulnerable situation Dalits are living in, put them in high risk of discrimination, dehumanization, degradation and violence every day. Also, Dalits are also at great risk of being exploited and trafficked.
Women and children are exploited to work under slavelike conditions. The Dalits are basically only seen as suitable for jobs such as drain cleaner, pall-bearer and prostitutes at the temples.
Dalits are discriminated against just because they were born into poorer conditions. Let me give you an example. After a Dalit has entered a tea shop and finished his or her tea, the Dalit is expected to crush the cup on the ground to prevent another person from being polluted by the cup the Dalit touched.
In 2006 Prime Minister Singh was the first leader in India to compare the condition of the Dalits with the black South Africans under apartheid and stated that the only parallel to the practice of untouchability was Apartheid. The fact that it has been compared to Apartheid in South Africa shows the dreadful reality facing people in India today.
These people are living a reality that is far beyond what many of us can imagine. We need to show our solidarity and help.
I do believe that by doing what we can, with what we have and where we are, we can together make a change.
Dalit Freedom Network is an organization which works worldwide to raise awareness of Dalits’ situation in India. They work for education, economic development, healthcare and social justice for Dalits in India.
For further information check out their website to find out more about Dalit Freedom’s great job to prevent and combat the horrible situations the Dalits experience today. You can also find out what you can do to support and be a part of making a difference for Dalits in India.
Featured image for this post is from Supporting Dalit Children.