As you can see these have been meagre so far. A thoughtful response but sadly still a holding one from Jo Swinson MP and no direct response from the Prime Minister or the Deputy PM and nothing from the Official Opposition at all.
20 October 2014 Despite EHRC reports condemning caste discrimination and saying it ‘cannot be tolerated and should be included in the protections against discrimination and harassment provided in the Equality Act 2010′ legislation in the UK making caste discrimination illegal is still pending until Spring 2015. Therefore a letter along with DSN-UK leaflets were sent to all members of Her Majesty’s Government and Her Majesty’s Official Opposition in an attempt to speed up the process.The letter points out the estimated 400,000 Dalits living in the UK and the disastrous impact this has on Dalit rights such as education and employment. The letter goes on to say the suspension of legislation until Spring 2015 resulting in Dalits’ rights continuing to be violated. To date, we have had no response from either Her Majesty’s Government or Her Majesty’s Official Opposition. Below are copies of the letters sent out to all members of Her Majesty’s Government and Her Majesty’s Official Opposition and the leaflet accompanying them 2014 DSN UK letter to HMG 2014 DSN UK letter to Shadow Cabinet
9th September 2014 DSN-UK’s Annual General Meeting took place on the 9th September. The meeting began with an introduction from Tom Palakudiyil the Vice Chair and was then followed by the business section in which finance, election of trustees and review of the year were covered. This was then followed by four highly engaging talks, the first talk being led by Bishop Yuhanon Meletius and covered faith in India. A talk on caste and labour rights in Indian supply chains came next given by Rana Alok Singh, India representative for Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) in India. Dr Aidan McQuade, Director of the oldest international human rights organisation in the world Anti-Slavery International then spoke about slavery and caste. The speeches ended with the personal story of DSN-UK’s own Ramesh Gautam and his triumph over all the odds. Below are DSN-UK’s Review of the Year and the Annual Report and Account s
9th July 2014 The subject of caste discrimination in the UK and lack of protective legislation implemented by the UK Government was put forward in the House of Commons. When asked about why the Government has prolonged the implementation of legislation to protect victims of caste discrimination, Mrs Helen Grant – The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities – responded ‘we (the Government) need to assess the feasibility of any further research into caste discrimination’. According to Mrs Grant, there are some people that ‘do not believe that caste discrimination exists and consider that legislation is, therefore, unnecessary’ and so a feasibility study is needed in order to assess whether caste discrimination is actually here in the UK. Facts were brought forward as both Jeremy Corbyn and Adam Holloway pointed out that caste discrimination does exist in the UK and on an incredibly large scale. It is estimated there are around 860,00 Dalits living in the Uk and of ‘58% of those surveyed believe they face discrimination because of their caste’ and ‘80% believe that the police would not understand caste discrimination if it was reported to them’. There is undeniable evidence that caste discrimination is present in the UK and although Mrs Grant says ‘the Government have always said that there is no place for unlawful discrimination or prejudice in society’ the fact of the matter is unlawful discrimination and prejudice is rife in caste society in the UK. ‘It was the will of Parliament that a duty be imposed to make caste an aspect of race for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, and we (the Government) are well aware of that duty’ remonstrated Mrs Grant but if 4 years on and no legislation whatsoever has been implemented to make caste discrimination illegal, is the Government’s awareness the only thing Dalits can rely on for protection? Caste Discrimination debate Westminster Hall 9 July 2014
THE ROLE OF THE UN IN COMBATING CASTE-BASED VIOLENCE AND DISCRIMINATION On June 17 2014 the side event addressing violence against Dalit women took place at the United Nations in Geneva. It was sponsored by Human Rights Watch, International Movement against all forms of Discrimination and Racism, Minority Rights Group, Franciscan International, and Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development and organised in association with International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) and co-sponsored by Denmark and Norway. The event addressed caste-based sexual and other forms of violence against women and girls in caste-affected countries and explored with United Nations stakeholders how to take comprehensive and urgent action on this issue. Dalit women human rights defenders spoke of the reality on the ground in South Asia and a preview of a documentary on the Dalit women’s fight for justice in India was screened. OBJECTIVES Providing a better understanding of the intersection between gender-based violence and caste discrimination and highlighting the cross-cutting themes affecting Dalit women and similarly affected communities Sharing good practices, recent developments, and actions taken by various stakeholders to eliminate violence against Dalit women. Exploring ways forward to address caste-based violations including Dalit women, in particular in the context of the UN Human Rights Council. OPENING KEY NOTE SPEAKER Ms. Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Link to the speech of outgoing High Commissioner for Human Rights and a true champion of Dalit women and their fight for equality http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14736&LangID=E OTHER SPEAKERS Ms. Asha Kowtal, General Secretary of the All India Dalit Human Rights Forum (AIDMAM) Ms. Manjula Pradeep, Asia Dalit Rights Forum, Director of Navsarjan Trust Ms. Durga Sob, President, Feminist Dalit Organisation, Nepal Ms Julie De Rivero, Geneva Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch Ms. Rita Izsák, Independent Expert on Minority Issues Ms. Saraswathi Menon, Director, Policy Division, UN Women – Closing remarks Moderator: Ms. Jyoti Sanghera, Chief, Human Rights and Economic and Social Issues Section, OHCHR Press Release IDSN-HRW HRC26 IDSN recommendations to the UN on caste-based discrimination and violence against women – June 2014
UK Govt response to Lord’s PQ highlights unreasonable delays to implementation of caste discrimination legislation worried that the next phase proposed ” could be seen as intrusive and might have an adverse effect on good relations in the relevant communities”. Which communities does he mean? Lord Avebury’s Parliamentary Question to the Minister was answered with a wholly unacceptable further delay of 6 months and more. If this continues this legislation will not see the light of day before 2016. Lord Ahmad response to Lord Avebury 6 May 2014
US Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton to introduce resolution to protect Dalits from discrimination
UK Government – PLEASE TAKE NOTE WASHINGTON, DC – In advance of the April 14 birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, a freedom fighter for the Dalit people, the office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today announced that Norton will introduce a resolution when Congress returns from recess condemning Dalit untouchability, the practice of birth-descent discrimination against Dalit people, which is still widely practiced in India, Nepal, the Asian diaspora and other South Asian nations, and calling on these countries to recognize the human rights of the Dalit people and end all forms of untouchability within their borders. http://norton.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/norton-to-introduce-resolution-calling-on-congress-to-condemn
Dalit Solidarity Network UK welcomes the publication of the EHRC reports on 28 February 2014. The two reports confirm that caste discrimination “cannot be tolerated and should be included in the protections against discrimination and harassment provided in the Equality Act 2010”. The reports also question the proposed sunset clause : “for a non-discrimination ground is legally without precedent and goes against this key differential” http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/publications/our-research/research-reports/research-reports-91-100/ The next stage of the Government’s long and drawn out timetable is the consultation planned for March 2014 seeking further views from stakeholders and the public. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/caste-discrimination-legislation-timetable The GEO having received these reports early in January 2014 has already had six weeks to draft the questions for the consultation. This will be followed by a draft Affirmative Order in Autumn 2014 before the legislation passed in June 2013 that caste should be an aspect of race for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 is implemented. We urge the UK Government to make this a reality before Spring 2015 in order to protect the victims and potential victims of caste-based discrimination in Britain.
The European Parliament has voted with a huge majority to pass a resolution to combat caste based discrimination around the world. The resolution was supported by UK and Ireland MEPS but action in the UK to change discrimination laws to include Caste has been repeatedly delayed. Caste discrimination affects an estimated 260million people around the world and the resolution calls for, amongst other things, a “caste-based discrimination clause in all trade and association agreements.” Prior to the vote a number of MEPs spoke on caste discrimination including Paul Murphy, Martina Anderson and Jean Lambert, who is a patron of the Dalit Solidarity Network (DSN). Some of their comments can be found below. Caste discrimination is the discrimination of a group of individuals because of the group they were born into. The form and level of discrimination varies but can include being forced into bonded labour and carrying out incredibly hazardous jobs such as cleaning human waste. The majority of caste discrimination occurs in South Asia but here in the UK there has been a number of reports documenting instances of caste discrimination in the UK, including a government commissioned one by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/85522/caste-discrimination.pdf . Despite these, the government has resisted and continues to delay implementation of legislation. Jean Lambert said today, “The UK has recently brought caste discrimination into its anti-discrimination legislation but we are seeing deliberate moves by a particular home office minister to prevent the implementation of this change.” No one should have to change their faith to be accepted in society, no one should be refused water in a disaster because of their caste and everyone should be able to benefit from education and use their talents, particularly in a week where we celebrate international day of the girl. We’ve seen recent legislation in Nepal which has challenged discrimination we have seen EU projects there which have made a n enormous difference but, as people have said unless this is taken up and comes part of a real cultural shift all we are doing is supporting some people, which is extremely valuable. It shows what it is we are trying to do but we need to have these rights entrenched not just in the constitution but in implementation in the law. Jean Lambert I am pleased to see this issue being addressed and I condemn the human rights violations committed against the estimated 260million people worldwide suffering from caste based discrimination. Known as untouchables or as Dalits they are often forcibly assigned the most dirty and hazardous jobs and many are subjected to forced and bonded labour and they are kept in sever poverty. Without doubt, when relevant, there should be a caste based discrimination clause in EU international trading agreements and association agreements. The commission should also take steps to combat this discrimination within Europe’s borders as no community anywhere should be exempt from equality legislation and from human rights protection. Martina Anderson In Britain the disgraceful attempts of the government to block or delay the extension of equality legislation to include caste based discrimination should be condemned. While it is illegal in most countries it doesn’t stop human rights violations, exclusion, torture, rape, slavery and murder being a daily reality for many, but the growing number of brave oppressed caste activists raising their voices shows a way forward, linked with the struggles of other workers and poor, an alternative society based on equality and solidarity can be built and this barbaric feudal remnant can be confined to the dustbin of history. Paul Murphy Press Release prepared by Sam Batt LINKS: Information on Caste Discrimination http://dsnuk.org/caste-discrimination/what-is-caste-discrimination/ Speeches under Caste-Based Discrimination (debate) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sed/speeches.do
The Government has just published their long anticipated timetable for its consultation and implementation of caste discrimination legislation under Clause 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/caste-discrimination-legislation-timetable Click here for DSN-UK Press Release Press Release July 2013 – the long road to equality for Dalits in the UK