Subject: [fem-women2000 695] FWD: WCAR: THE DALIT COMMUNITY AT THE WCAR
From: Makoto TERANAKA <>
Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2001 19:08:59 +0900
Seq: 695

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Date: Sat, 01 Sep 2001 00:00:24 +0800
>From: Kathy Clarin <>


I came to Durban wondering if the World Conference Against Racism was going
to be yet another talk-show, melodramatic hype leading to nothing much!

Meeting with Kess disabused me of this misconception.

Kess works with the 'untouchables' of India, people who are the vict
ims of the Hindu caste system. Strictly adhered in India even 53 years after
independence, the system is a blatant violation against the human rights of

Kess introduced me to V Bhaskaran, lawyer and regional convener for Dalit
human rights in India. "Dalits in India are a segregated group," he began,
going on to shock me with the information that "Dalit people are employed
to carry human waste.

Caste bias runs deep, said Bhaskaran, illustrating this with the
information that a newly appointed upper-caste Brahmin judge took over from
his dalit predecessor by cleansing the judicial chair in the courtroom with
holy water. This happened as recently as in 1999. The logical conclusion of
such bias in a courtroom case is mind-boggling.

In another, more bloody, incident of caste bigotry going back to 1998, the
elected president of a village panchayat (committee) was murdered. His
"fault"? Not only was he a dalit, e had the temerity to stand for the
election - and, win!

Bhaskaran then handed me a set of daunting statistics prepared by the Human
Rights Forum for Dalit Liberation: Every hour two dalits are assaulted;
every hour three Dalit women are raped; every hour two dalit people are
murdered and two dalit houses are burnt down.

It doesn't end there  horrifying as the stark statistics are, the
unquantifiable psychological trauma is worse, said Bhaskaran, adding that
"even in schools dalit children are teased and harassed by upper caste
children." The Hindu religion of the upper caste Brahmins has virtually
driven the nature-based worship of the dalits underground.

But the same culture has honed the survival skills of India's dalit
millions. As Bhaskaran said: "We are oppressed, downtrodden, neglected ,
unprotected and we are strong  that is how we have survived this long, over
centuries of oppression. We are strong and we are here to make out voices
heard to the world so that the world can help us to survive even more."

"We are here to make the international community aware of the atrocities
caused to a segregated group of people in India and Nepal alike. We are
here to show the UN that casteism is the most superlative form of racism.

And we are here to make sure that casteism is in the document," emphasized

At the famous Kingsmead cricket grounds, interspersed with the Palestinians
shouting for freedom and protesting the Israeli occupation of their lands,
could be heard the drum beats and the calls of the dalit people asking for

By- Miuru Jayaweera of Young Asia Television- Sri Lanka who is also a
member of the ISIS International-Manila, Women's Media Team from Durban.

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