Dalit women's aspirations brought home impact of 'double discrimination'

dalit women Dhaka Emily Esplen visited a community in Dhaka where inspiring community organisers are showing change is possible.

When I met members of the Dalit Women's Forum in Dhaka last month, they told me about the changes they want to see in their lives and communities. They want their daughters to go to school and stay in school.

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‘The Hague Declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity of Dalit Women’

The Hague, 21 November 2006


WE, the participants of the Hague Conference on Dalit Women’s Rights, held in The Hague on 20 and 21 November 2006, after deliberating upon the issues of discrimination, violence and impunity against Dalit women, adopt this Declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity of Dalit Women.

In South Asia – that is, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – Dalits have endured discrimination based on work and descent for centuries, and this discrimination continues today. The Dalits – known as ‘untouchables’ or outcastes – number around two hundred and sixty million people in South Asia. On account of their caste, they experience discrimination, social exclusion and violence on a daily basis. Although economic growth in the region has been strong over the past decade, caste disparities remain and are in fact increasing. The situation of Dalit women in these countries needs urgent and special attention. They constitute one of the largest socially segregated groups anywhere in the world and face systemic and structural discrimination thrice over: as Dalits, as women, and as poor Systemic Discrimination, Violence and Impunity.

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The Status of Dalit Women in India’s Caste Based System

by Sonia Mahey, University of Alberta

In this paper I wish to present the devastating effects of the caste system on the educational, social, and economical status of Dalit women in modern India. My aim is to highlight the harsh reality of the suppression, struggle and torture Dalit women face every day of their miserable lives. The hardships of Dalit women are not simply due to their poverty, economical status, or lack of education, but are a direct result of the severe exploitation and suppression by the upper classes, which is legitimized by Hindu religious scriptures (Thind n.pag; Agarwal n.pag).

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Bhil Women Fight the Liquor Demons

by Rahul Banerjee 

There is a general perception that Adivasi women enjoy greater equality because tribal society is less patriarchal. The reality, however, is very different. Take the situation of Bhil tribal, Ramanbai, of Chandupura village in Madhya Pradesh's Khargone district. She says, "I am suffering from piles and the doctor at Sanawad has told me that I will have to get myself operated. Yet, my husband is refusing to part with the money." 

Kesarbai of the neighboring Okhla village also has problems. "I already have three daughters and don't want any more children, but my husband is insistent on a son. When he gets drunk he does not listen to any reason. If I resist him, he accuses me of being involved with another man." 

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A Study on Dalit Women Movement in Tamilnadu

by Dr. R. Sivakumar 

Even as we are in the 21st century, caste discrimination, an age- old practice that dehumanizes and perpetuates a cruel form of discrimination continues to be practiced. India where the practice is rampant despite the existence of a legislation to stop this, 160 million Dalits of which 49.96 percentage are women continue to suffer discrimination. The discrimination that Dalit women are subjected to is similar to racial discrimination. Dalit women are thrice discriminated, treated as untouchables and as outcaste, due to their caste, face gender discrimination being women and finally economic impoverishment due to unequal wage disparity, with low or underpaid labour. According to the Manusmiriti, women have no right to education, independence, or wealth. It not only justifies the treatment of dalit women as a sex object and promotes child marriage. Manusmiriti also promoted inequality between men and women. As other parts of country in Tamil Nadu also Dalit women are facing challenges because of their caste and gender discrimination. So, in order to improve and get due respect of Dalit women, the various womenâ??s forum and organization started as Dalit women movement to protect their rights.

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Weaving past caste biases

by Ben Antao 

THE WEAVE of My Life by Urmila Pawar is more than a Dalit woman’s memoirs; it’s a bold yet intelligent critique of casteism coupled with feminist politics in Maharashtra towards the last quarter of the 20th century. And to think that a woman from the Mahar caste could rise above her poor and deprived environment in the Ratnagiri village and survive to tell her story is nothing short of remarkable.

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