51st session of the Human Rights Council
Item 3: General Debate Statement on the report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery
Wednesday 21 September 2022
Statement by Action Canada for Population and Development
Thank you, President. Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative, the International Dalit Solidarity Network, Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network and National Council of Women Leaders.
We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s report and analysis on the compounded operation of caste, class, gender, religion and the multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination.
One-third of Dalits in India are poor, translating into lower educational levels, with particular consequences for girls and women. Close to half of Dalit women in India receive no antenatal care. On average, a Dalit woman lives 15 years less than women from dominant castes. Nearly two-thirds of India’s health infrastructure is in private hands and only 15% of Dalits can access the expensive private health facilities.
The situation of Dalits is hardly better in other South Asian countries. About half of Nepali Dalits live below poverty line; in Pakistan, they are often forced into bonded labour and 90% of Dalit women and girls are illiterate; about 40% of the Dalits in Bangladesh face caste-based violence but rarely report it to the police; Dalits make up more than 80% of tea plantation workers in Sri Lanka, an industry that makes widespread use of bonded labour.
Only a systematic approach can recognise and address the historical and ongoing disempowerment of Dalits.
We therefore recommend the Special Rapporteur to continue addressing these issues throughout his work, and urge States to eliminate all forms of discrimination based on caste, work and descent, addressing the root causes which include the institutional and structural denial of discrimination.