IndiaNews - Archive
IndiaNews is the electronic newsletter of the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) that informs you by email on activities and results in the fields of CHILD LABOUR & EDUCATION, DALITS, CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY and HUMAN RIGHTS. You can SUBSCRIBE HERE to this newsletter!
March 1, 2017 | January 24, 2017 | January 16, 2017 | January 10, 2017 | August 15, 2016 | July 14, 2016 | May 24, 2016 | March 24, 2016 | March 11, 2016 | January 28, 2016 | December 21, 2015 | October 20, 2015 | June 18, 2015 | June 11, 2015 | April 16, 2015 | March 16, 2015 | February 26, 2015 | January 29, 2015 | December 22, 2014 | November 26, 2014 | October 28, 2014 | October 3, 2014 | July 18, 2014 | June 30, 2014 | June 11, 2014 | April 28, 2014 | April 16, 2014 | April 15, 2014 | March 18, 2014 | February 21, 2014 | December 19, 2013 | December 2, 2013 | October 28, 2013 | September 29, 2013 | July 29, 2013 | July 8, 2013 | July 2, 2013 | May 8, 2013 | April 24, 2013 | March 8, 2013 | February 16, 2013 | February 4, 2013 | January 9, 2013 | December 31, 2012 | December 13, 2012 | October 24, 2012 | July 26, 2012 | July 23, 2012 | July 19, 2012 | July 4, 2012 | June 18, 2012 | June 12, 2012 | May 25, 2012 | May 18, 2012 | May 10, 2012 | April 25, 2012 | March 6, 2012 | February 27, 2012 | January 23, 2012 | November 20, 2011 | October 6, 2011 | September 23, 2011 | August 3, 2011 | July 5, 2011 | May 2, 2011 | March 8, 2011 | January 24, 2011 | November 22, 2010 | June 4, 2010 | March 5, 2010 | February 5, 2010 | October 30, 2009 | September 1, 2009
IndiaNieuws - March 1, 2017
Child Labour Due Diligence Law for companies adopted by Dutch Parliament
On February 7, 2017 the Child Labour Due Diligence Law, initiated by member Van Laar (Labour Party), was adopted by the Dutch Parliament, with 82 votes (of 150 MPs) in favour. The law requires companies to examine whether child labour occurs in their production chain. If that is the case they should develop a plan of action to combat child labour and draw up a declaration about their investigation and plan of action. That statement will be recorded in a public register by a yet to be designated public authority. The definitions of the ILO conventions apply: 15 years for any kind of labour, other than light work alongside schooling or school, and hazardous work for all children under 18 years.
If the Senate gives its approval too, the Act will be effective from January 1st, 2020, so companies get ample time to prepare themselves thoroughly. But if they already have made enough progress with their approach, they can also deliver their declaration at the registry by 2018. Companies not only have to determine whether there "is a reasonable suspicion” that their first supplier is free from child labour, but but also whether child labour occurs further down the production chain. It is yet to be determined which groups of companies - for example, very small companies or companies that are not active in countries or sectors where child labour occurs - are exempted from the Act.
Read the full article
EU states its commitment to civil society and human rights defenders
In a statement on World NGO Day the EU reiterates its commitment to protecting space for civil society and human rights defenders. This is particularly relevant in relation to organisations and defenders working to fight caste discrimination as they are increasingly facing threats and sanctions.
The statement issued on the 27 February includes the following passages:
"There has been a backlash against civil society over the past years as governments, in a significant number of countries, seek to suppress opposition or criticism, with a clear trend towards an increasingly restricted space for independent civil society, as well as outright threats made against individuals and organisations."
"The EU is firmly opposed to any unjustified restrictions to the rights of Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly or to the work of civil society. We have adopted a Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy and an Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019 in which Freedom of Association and Peaceful assembly is one of the key priorities on human rights for the EU.
The EU promotes these rights in its human rights dialogues with third country authorities, at the UN Human Rights Council, by supporting the Human Rights Defenders resolution at the UN General Assembly and the mandates of UN Special Rapporteurs monitoring the current trend of shrinking democratic space for civil society."
The statement also covered the value of civil society for democracies and the success of the EU mechanism for Human Rights Defenders: ProtectDefenders.eu.
Dutch Government: India curtails human rights organisations
Mid-February 2017 the Dutch Ministers Koenders of Foreign Affairs and Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation answered questions of Member of Parliament Voordewind (ChristianUnion) on the exclusion and obstruction of civil society organisations by the government of India. This includes e.g. Amnesty International, Greenpeace, the Dalit NGO Navsarjan and the organisation Compassion. Their financial assets have been frozen which makes their work impossible or very difficult. They are not allowed to receive any foreign funding. This is also the case for thousands of other organisations, including many organisations working on human rights.
"Are you willing to start discussions with and to put pressure on the Indian government to reverse these measures, particularly the very restrictive Foreign Regulation and Contribution Act, as also advised by Marina Kiai, the Special UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Assembly?" Koenders and Ploumen responded: "The Dutch government shares the concerns of UN Rapporteur Maina Kiai about the law aimed at foreign donations. This law that regulates foreign donations to Indian organisations, may restrict the financing of civil society. The Netherlands made efforts to draw attention to this situation at various levels ... and will continue to do so in future.
The issue was raised in New Delhi by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in June 2015, and at senior official level in June 2016. In addition to further discussions on this subject by the Embassy in New Delhi the subject will also be raised by The Netherlands with the Indian authorities at the next bilateral consultations, currently to be expected on March 2017."
Read the full questions and answers.
Read also in the article in The New York Times: "Narendra Modi's Crackdown on Civil Society in India".
10,000 signatures for living wage handed over to Dutch Minister Ploumen
Thousands of Dutch consumers want Minister Ploumen [of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation] to provide a living wage for garment workers. Through a petition of Clean Clothes Campaign and the India Committee of the Netherlands 10,734 Dutch people call on Ploumen to do so.
Consumers are fed up to be confronted again and again with bad news about the garment industry. They no longer want to contribute to the exploitation that takes place daily in garment factories. With this handover consumers give a clear signal to fashion brands that they should pay a fair wage to workers and that the government must ensure this," said Tara Scally of Clean Clothes Campaign.
Minister Ploumen indicates that companies have to make a living wage part of their procurement process: "The calculation of the price of a garment should be adjusted. That is possible, by also looking at a living wage in the region, how many hours a person works on a piece garment, which fabrics are used and what investments are needed for a secure and clean production."
Read the full press release and the report Doing Dutch.
Dutch Minister on report Branded Childhood: Put living wage higher on agenda
Answering the questions of the Dutch MPs Voordewind and Van Laar about the report Branded Childhood of Stop Child Labour and SOMO, Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Ploumen reacted with some of the following answers:
"The report Branded Childhood of Stop Child Labour and SOMO presents a harrowing picture of child labour in Bangladesh. Children belong in school, not at work. ... Child labour in the formal sector is now considerably reduced. In this sector garments are produced which are destined for export. According to the report children of textile workers often work in other sectors. The lack of living wage for parents can may cause children to contribute to the family income. The Netherlands does acknowledge this and actively pursues living wages."
Ploumen also says: "The government supports the recommendation that this issue [living wage] needs to be put higher on the agenda of brands, producers, the government of Bangladesh and in multi-stakeholder initiatives. Moreover, the report describes important preconditions for a living wage such as freedom of association and fair procurement practices by the garment brands."
Minister Ploumen adds: "Following the recent wage campaigns in Bangladesh, the Dutch ambassador has spoken with the employers' organization and the authorities in Bangladesh. ... The Netherlands has stressed the importance of living wages and workers' rights in these talks. In short, this report supports the Dutch approach."
On the question if Minister Ploumen would be willing to bring the report to the attention of the European colleagues, she answered: "The report provides support for the need to work together to bring the importance of a living wage and freedom of association to the attention of the Government of Bangladesh. Both in Bangladesh and for example in the context of the EU Garment Initiative there is close cooperation in this area with the European Commission."
See full questions and elaborate answers and the report Branded Childhood.
Member of EU Parliament raises questions about ICN report Fabric of Slavery
Member of the European Parliament Mrs. Anne-Marie Mineur of the Socialist Party raised a number of questions with the European Commission about the report Fabric of Slavery of the India Committee of The Netherlands about modern slavery in Indian spinning mills. She wants to know in particular:
- Does the Commission acknowledge that clothing firms established in the EU which, through their supply chains, are involved with those spinning mills are failing to comply with the due diligence guidelines set out in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and what action is it going to take?
- How will the Commission respond to each of the recommendations in the report, namely requiring firms to bring their due diligence policy into line with OECD guidelines, prioritising (in EU-India relations) action to combat forced labour in the textiles industry, laying down rules for greater production chain transparency, and legislating to combat modern slavery and child labour?
Read the full questions and the report Fabric of Slavery.
UN Expert Report: India must act on access to adequate housing for Dalits
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha, has released a report on housing in India. The report draws attention to the alarming state of Dalit houses and the need for Government action to improve housing and end discrimination.
The report cites Government statistics revealing that Dalits on average live in lower quality housing, made with inadequate materials compared to the general population and finds the lack of access for Dalits to latrines, at 66%, particularly alarming.
The report states that the manual removing of human excrements from dry latrines, known as manual scavenging, persists and is not being dealt with effectively. It also states that that those engaged in manual scavenging, primarily Dalits, “suffer from deplorable housing and living conditions”.
Read more information and the report.
Indian textile firms fail to investigate abuse complaints - activists: No record of committees to look into sexual harassment in more than 3,000 mills across four districts
Women facing sexual harassment in India's garment industry have no place to turn as textile companies are shirking their legal duty to investigate abuse allegations, activists said on Thursday.
Big textile companies are legally required to form committees to look into sexual harassment complaints but the vast majority haven't done so, according to campaigners.
In response to a right to information query filed by a charity in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the state government said it had no record of committees being formed or functioning in more than 3,000 mills across four districts.
"The reply shocked us," said R. Karuppusamy of the Rights Education and Development Centre.
"Young girls work in this industry and there is enough documented evidence to show that there is abuse and exploitation inside the mills. But there are no complaint committees for them to approach," Karuppusamy said. Much of India's $40 billion garment and textile industry, which employs an estimated 45 million mostly female workers, operates in the informal sector and is poorly regulated.
Read the full story and the report No sexual harassment - The fight against sexual violence at work.
IndiaNieuws - January 24, 2017
Branded Childhood: Garment brands contribute to low wages, long working hours, child labour and school dropouts in Bangladesh
The average worker in the Bangladeshi garment industry is getting paid only one third of what is considered to be a living wage. Low wages and long working hours have been found to play a key role in parents’ decisions to take their children out of school and let them work in various jobs. Many international garment brands, including but not only H&M, C&A, Esprit, Marks & Spencer, GAP, VF Corporation and Kmart Australia, contribute to this situation.
These are important findings of the report Branded Childhood that is published by Stop Child Labour and SOMO today. Almost 50% of the textiles produced in Bangladesh are exported to the European Union. International brands and retailers should therefore play a key role in ensuring that the rights of all workers and their children are respected.
There are still more than 3.5 million children working in Bangladesh, aged from 5 to 17 years old. The highest concentration of child workers is found in Dhaka Division where an estimated 690,000 children are engaged in child labour.
Child labour at export-oriented garment factories in Bangladesh has been substantially reduced over the past few years, in part due to buying companies’ zero tolerance policies. However, this report focuses on a more hidden aspect of child labour. For the research 75 workers with children were interviewed working in 14 different factory units producing garment for the international market.
The working children featured in the report are not part of the buying companies’ supply chains but are the children of the garment workers. They are working at home or in other companies, sometimes in entirely different sectors. Workers are receiving low wages and experiencing long working days and that this – without doubt – contributes to the low school attendance and child labour of their children.
Read the full press release and download the report.
IndiaNews - January 16, 2017
India blocks funding for Dalit NGO Navsarjan Trust
In the latest of a series of blocks on foreign funding to human rights NGOs, the Indian Government has revoked the foreign funding (FCRA) license from Dalit rights NGO Navsarjan Trust. The revocation of the license means that Navsarjan can no longer receive funding from foreign donors and the organisation has had to ask its 80 staff to resign.
The Government order to cancel the license accuses Navsarjan Trust of being involved in “undesirable activities aimed to affect prejudicially harmony between religious, racial, social, linguistic, regional groups, castes or communities,” but it does not offer any concrete examples or evidence for this claim.
Read the full article (dated January 6) on the IDSN website and more background information, including the article Gujarat’s oldest Dalit rights group loses foreign funds license, reviving charges of victimization on scroll.in.
Booklet: No Sexual Harassment - The fight against sexual violence at work
Mondiaal FNV, the international wing of the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) recently published the booklet No Sexual Harassment - The fight against sexual violence at work.
The booklet both a result of and a follow-up activity of the meeting that the FNV and ICN recently organized with women activists from India, Bangladesh, Argentina, Tanzania, Myanmar, Indonesia and The Netherlands. These activities are part of a range of efforts to raise attention to the enormous problem of (sexual) violence against women at the workfloor ánd to do something about it.
The informative booklet contains an interview with four women, gives a general overview of the problem and provides concrete information on various strategies to tackle the problem. Read the booklet here.
Health issues and low incomes threaten leather workers in Pakistan
The report Hell-bent for leather published by SOMO and NOWCommunities reveals that workers are suffering from serious health problems in Pakistan’s leather industry, one of the world’s leading leather producers. Workers are paid salaries that are far below the cost of living. Most leather ends up in stores across the EU as garments and accessories.
During the tanning process, workers are often exposed to the chemical chromium, which can cause severe health problems.
Workers are often paid salaries that are far below the cost of living, most barely earn the legal minimum wage (€119) or even less a month. This is not enough to buy three meals a day, let alone to rent a house or feed a family.
The EU stimulates exports from Pakistan through its Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP+), which provides trade tariff reductions on the condition that Pakistan implements core international conventions relating to human and labour rights. However, as the research reveals, human and labour rights violations remain widespread across the country’s leather industry.
See also the photos and 6 minute video on the Pakistani leather industry by Asim Rafiqui|NOOR.
It's time to Even It Up India! (a campaign by Oxfam)
An Oxfam campaign: demand from the Indian government an Inclusive Economy.
Eight billionaires own the same wealth as half the world’s population. That’s right – 8 individuals own as much as the poorest 3.6 billion people. Meanwhile, every day 1 in 8 people go to bed hungry. In India, 57 billionaires have the same amount of wealth as the bottom 70% of India. The richest 1% of Indians have 58% of total wealth. Such extreme inequality is outrageous.
Families living in poverty around the world are forced to suffer low wages, inhumane working conditions, and a total lack of even the most basic public services. The poorest and marginalized people in our societies have been hit hardest – particularly women. Governments are doing too little to help. Meanwhile the extremely wealthy make billions from a system bent in their favour.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose another future. A future where the government can act to help everyone, where people are put before profits, and everyone is given a fair chance. We can help end poverty, and the rich and powerful need to play their part.
Sign the open letter to the Indian Government and the world's billionaires.
See the Oxfam report on the issue: An economy for the 1% - How privilege and power in the economy drive extreme inequality and how this can be stopped.
IndiaNews - January 10, 2017
Report Fabric of Slavery is getting response
On the 21st of December ICN published its new report Fabric of Slavery - Large-scale forced (child) labour in India's spinning mills. It shows that various forms of modern slavery, including child slavery, are found in more than 90% of the spinning mills in South India. These spinning mills produce yarn for Indian, Bangladeshi and Chinese garment factories that produce for the Western market.
The report Fabric of Slavery exposes the scale on which young girls and women - the majority of which are Dalits or 'outcastes' - are enslaved by employers who withhold their wages or lock them up in company-controlled hostels. They work long hours, face sexual harassment and do not even earn the minimum wage. Gerard Oonk, director of ICN: "We have raised the issue for five years now, but even to us the scale of this problem came as a shock."
The report got wide publicity, including though publications in the national Indian newspaper The Hindu and a globally published article by Thomson Reuters. Also various fashion websites published about the report and the global garment brand C&A responded. In the Netherlands parliamentary questions were raised after publication of the report.
Report Forced Labour in the Textile and Garment Sector in Tamil Nadu, South India: Strategies for Redress
This in-depth research of Australian academics examines the grievances of young women, predominantly Dalit, who are recruited from remote villages to work in textile mills and garment factories in the districts of Tamil Nadu in South India. It also studies the effectiveness strategies to redress the human rights violations which they are suffering, in which both the roles of local and international organizations (including ICN) is assessed. Companies sourcing in this industry from Tamil Nadu include major global brands and ETI members such as Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury, Asda/Walmart, Tesco, Mothercare, Zara, Primark, C&A and H&M.
The researchers: "Women work under bonded and forced labour conditions, have low pay and poor conditions, and suffer other various human rights violations. Existing power imbalances have the effect of making the women more vulnerable due to their poverty, gender and caste. It can also make them more isolated due to employers preventing them from accessing unions and other individuals who could assist the workers to make claims directly to their employer, or through the judicial process."
Read the report here.
Public declaration of creation of Child Labour Free Zones in Tirupur
The people of 16 and 17th ward formally declared Pandiyan Nagar and Annanagar in Tirupur as Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZ) on the 28th of December 2016.
Child Labour Free Zones are geographical areas where no distinction is made between different forms of child Labour and where all children are withdrawn from labour and re-enrolled into formal schools to help them continue their education. The declaration was made at a function organised in Tirupur on December 28, 2016. A short film on the Child Labour Free Zones of Pandiyan Nagar and Annanagar was screened on the occasion following which the declaration was made public.
Read the full report and see the short film.
Successful National Consultation on Child Labour Free Zones in New Delhi
In August, Stop Child Labour organized the National Consultation Stepping Stones for creating Child Labour Free Zones in New Delhi, India. The purpose of the consultation was to share best practices and the concept of the area based approach towards creating child labour free zones with different stakeholders and to explore avenues of collaboration in addressing the issue of child labour.
With the participation of 135 delegates from 16 states, the Consultation was a big success. These delegates represented diverse stakeholders who are engaged in eradicating child labour – social activists, government officials, business executives, international organizations, NGOs, labour unions, journalists, academics, and others.
Read the full article and report.
European Parliament report calls for EU policy on caste discrimination
In its 2016 Report on the Annual Report on human rights and democracy in the world and the European Union’s policy on the matter the European Parliament (EP) raises deep concern over grave violations of Dalit human rights. The report calls for an EU policy development on caste discrimination.
The report, released by the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs, states that the European Parliament is "deeply concerned by the alarming rate of caste-based violent attacks on Dalits and of institutionalised discrimination with impunity", and condemns "continuing human rights violations committed against people suffering from caste hierarchies and caste-based discrimination, including the denial of equality and of access to the legal system and to employment, and the continued segregation and caste-induced barriers to the achievement of basic human rights and development".
Read the full article and report.
Walk a Mile in Their Shoes: Workers Rights' Violations in the Indian Leather and Footwear Industry
India has been the second largest producer of footwear after China. More than 1 million people are engaged in the Indian footwear industry. Major importers are the UK, the US, Germany, France and Italy. As part of the international campaign Change Your Shoes, 18 European and Asian organisations came together to raise awareness about social and environmental problems in the production of leather and footwear. Research was conducted in Eastern Europe, Italy and Turkey, with the aim of improving social and environmental conditions in the global leather industry.
Workers in India’s leather and footwear industry are dealing with a gradual dilution of labour laws, a decline in the trade union movement and lacking alternative employment opportunities. International brands procuring from Indian suppliers must take urgent measures to ensure that their profits do not come at the cost of the lives of those who are furthest down in the footwear supply chain.
Read the full report.
Will Global Goals “leave no one behind” without tackling caste-based discrimination?
In 2015, seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by world leaders to guide global development agendas for the next 15 years. Yet, to date, the indicators measuring the achievement of the SDGs have not been finalised. On 17-18 November 2016, the Inter-Agency and Expert Group (IAEG) on the SDGs held its 4th meeting, aiming to finalise global development indicators.
Civil society organisations have been involved at different stages in preparing the SDGs' goals and targets, and now indicators, measuring its success. In July 2016, Asia Dalit Rights Forum, a civil society network advocating for Dalit rights, organised side events to the 'High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2016 – Ensuring that no one is left behind'. It included a capacity building workshop aiming to build an international Dalit Diaspora movement for international interventions, and two side events on the inclusion of the most marginalised and socially excluded communities in the SDGs.
Read the full article.
A review: US State Department Report on human rights in India 2015
The US State Department published its Report 2015 on human rights practices in India, which provides a comprehensive overview of the human rights situation in the country. The report covers areas of deprivation of life, detention, torture, trial procedures, violence, freedom of speech, assembly and religion, cultural rights, freedom of movement, refugees, political rights, workers’ rights, and discrimination against vulnerable groups, including women, Dalits, indigenous, LGBTI, children, people with disabilities and those affected by HIV/AIDS.
The report’s summary states: “The most significant human rights problems involved police and security force abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and rape; corruption remained widespread and contributed to ineffective responses to crimes, including those against women, children, and members of scheduled castes or tribes; and societal violence based on gender, religious affiliation, and caste or tribe.”
The report’s notable achievement is in its ability to reflect the significance of the issue of caste-based discrimination on Dalit communities in India. It notes that regardless of special quotas and benefits Dalit communities continue to face impediments in education, jobs, access to justice, freedom of movement, and access to institutions and services. “Crimes committed against Dalits reportedly often went unpunished, either because authorities failed to prosecute perpetrators or because victims did not report crimes due to fear of retaliation.”
Read the article and report.
IndiaNews - August 15, 2016
New Indian Child Labour Bill still allows many children to work
India has a new law against child labour. Or more precisely: the old Child Labour Act of 1986 was recently amended. On July 19, 2016, the Indian Upper House (Rajya Sabha) approved the amendments.
Has the law been improved after so many years of struggle against child labour and with partial success in practice? On some points it is, but Indian child rights activists and many others are very disappointed in the significant loopholes in the law which even might increase child labour – especially of children below 14 years of age.
Shantha Sinha – former chair of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights – concludes overall on the amended law: “the Bill denies them the time and space to develop and grow as citizens with similar choices and opportunities that children from affluent families enjoy.” And thus “only contribute towards fostering existing inequalities and discriminatory practices in society.”
Read the full article with a short bibliography: http://www.indianet.nl/160809e.html. Or visit the Stop Child Labour site: http://www.stopchildlabour.eu/new-indian-child-labour-bill-allows-many-children-to-work/.
Answers by Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs to parliamentary questions about restriction freedom of expression in India
Based on the Human Rights Watch report Stifling Dissent – The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in India and the legal analysis of UN Rapporteur Maina Kiai on the Indian law that regulates foreign donations to Indian organizations, a Dutch MP raised a number of parliamentary questions.
In his answers to the questions the Ministers answers e.g.: "Legislation may nevertheless possibly be restricting the freedom of expression, such as the law that restricts freedom of expression on the Internet (Information Technology Act). Also the Indian law that regulates foreign donations to Indian organizations, can be constraining with respect to funding civil society. The Dutch government shares the concerns of UN rapporteur Maina Kiai about the law regarding foreign donations as described in Analysis on International Law, Standards and Principles applicable to the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act 2010 and Foreign Contributions Regulation Rules 2011, and: "The government is indeed prepared to draw attention to the importance of freedom of expression in the dialogue to be held with India in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review."
See the full questions and answers: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/kv160623e.pdf.
Download the Human Rights Watch report Stifling Dissent – The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in India: https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/05/24/india-stop-treating-critics-criminals.
Modi and India’s Dalits
"The protest was called after four Dalits skinning a dead cow — a scorned task relegated to the long-oppressed group — were set upon by cow-protection vigilantes on July 11 near Una, Gujarat. The gang stripped the Dalits to the waist, chained them to a car, and beat them for hours while the police and others looked on. A protest in the Indian state of Gujarat’s largest city, Ahmedabad, on Sunday by thousands of Dalits — members of India’s lowest castes — has brought to a head the contradiction between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of economic opportunity for all and a politics of division driven by right-wing Hindu ideology."
Read the full editorial in The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/03/opinion/modi-and-indias-dalits.html.
Numerous legal instruments to address caste atrocities, but utter failure implemention
"As more Dalits assert our rights and try to engage with government services and grants we see a corresponding increase in caste atrocities against our communities. Simple assertions like voting, getting an education, obtaining legal services, accessing community resources like land and water, choosing occupations of our choice versus ritually-polluting occupations, organizing for just wages, participation in the cultural life of the community, and demands for dignity and self-respect can all end in brutal physical violence."
Read the full testimony before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, United States Congress, June 7, 2016, by Raj Cherukonda, Representative, Dalit American Federation: https://counterview.org/2016/06/14/numerous-legal-instruments-exist-to-address-caste-atrocities-but-utter-failure-in-implemention/.
Child Labour, CSR and Dalits in India: Talking with Gerard Oonk about an ongoing battle
"On July 4th 2016, 55 businesses, their trade organisations, the Dutch government and several NGOs (including Solidaridad, UNICEF Netherlands, the Stop Child Labour Coalition and the India Committee of the Netherlands) signed the Agreement on a Sustainable Garment and Textile Sector. This agreement is an important step towards more responsible business conduct, as the parties have agreed to work together on nine thematic issues, including prevention and addressing discrimination, child labour and forced labour in countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Turkey. This week I – says Yannick Goris - talked to Gerard Oonk, the director of the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) about this agreement, his work, and the current state of affairs in India."
Read the full interview: http://www.alp-online.net/home/child-labour-csr-and-dalits-in-india-talking-with-gerard-oonk-about-an-ongoing-battle.
IndiaNews - July 14, 2016
75 signatures endorse Sustainable Garment and Textile Sector agreement
On 4 July 2016 55 companies, their representative organisations, the Government of the Netherlands, trade unions FNV and CNV and the NGOs India Committee of the Netherlands, Stop Child Labour Coalition, Unicef Netherlands, Four Paws Netherlands signed the Agreement on a Sustainable Garment and Textile Sector. Together, the participating garment businesses represent more than a third of the Dutch market (EUR 3.5 billion). A broad coalition has joined forces in this agreement. The aim is for at least 50% of the Dutch garment and textile sector to sign the agreement by 2018, and 80% by 2020.
The Netherlands is the first country to embark on the transition to a sustainable garment and textile sector in this manner. The parties have agreed to work together when producing garments and textiles in countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Turkey to prevent discrimination, child labour and forced labour, to promote the right to collective bargaining by independent trade unions, living wages, healthy and safe working conditions, to reduce the negative environmental impact of raw materials production, to prevent animal suffering, to use less water, energy and chemicals, and to produce less chemical waste and waste water.
Read the full press release and the covenant text: http://www.ser.nl/en/publications/news/20160704-sustainable-garment-textile-sector.aspx.
1 in 7 women garment workers in Bangalore victim sexual violence at work
A new report released end of June by Sisters For Change and Munnade has found that 1 in 7 women workers in garment factories in Bangalore has been forced either to commit a sexual act or to have sexual intercourse and 1 in 14 has experienced physical violence in the workplace. 80% of women garment workers report their health and safety is at risk because of working conditions and 1 in 4 feel unsafe at work. In 90% of cases, the perpetrators are male supervisors or Floor-in-Charge managers.
The report, Eliminating violence against women at work: Making sexual harassment laws real for Karnataka’s women garment workers, based on a survey in late 2015 documents a range of cases of violence and harassment. The survey findings reveal that male perpetrators enjoy near total impunity – where sexual harassment cases were reported to management, disciplinary action was taken against perpetrators in only 3.6% of incidents but no criminal charges were brought in any case.
Read the full article and report: http://sistersforchange.org.uk/india-eliminating-violence-against-women-at-work/.
Breaking down barriers to justice for Dalit women
A new report released by Sisters for Change and Karnataka Dalit Mahila Vedike (KDMV) turns a spotlight on the violence faced by rural Dalit women and girls in 8 districts of Karnataka, Southern India. The findings are alarming: 3 in 4 Dalit women said they had experienced physical or sexual abuse or violence and 3 in 5 Dalit women said they felt unsafe in their community on a daily basis.
The report, Breaking down barriers to justice: Making the Indian criminal justice system work for Dalit women victims of violence, provides evidence based on survey conducted in late 2015. The most common type of abuse experienced by Dalit women was humiliation, verbal insult and intimidation. The second was sexual violence. Nearly half of male perpetrators of violence against Dalit women were someone known to them in the local community, including dominant caste perpetrators, family members and neighbours.
When Dalit women reported crimes of violence, 75% of the victims were disbelieved, blamed or told by the police that the violence was not a crime or that they should not register the case. In a staggering 71% of cases, no action was taken against the perpetrator. 3 in 4 Dalit women victims received no compensation and 64% of Dalit women surveyed said they did not feel they had equal access to justice due to their caste and low economic and educational status. The report highlights the brutal daily reality of violence affecting Dalit women and the complete failure of the State justice system to respond and punish their attackers.
Read the full article and report: http://sistersforchange.org.uk/breaking-down-barriers-to-justice-for-dalit-women/.
Millions of Dalit Muslims face caste discrimination
An estimated 100 million or more “Dalit Muslims” live in India. Activists and social scientists argue that affirmative action policies for ‘scheduled castes’ should also apply to this group.
The caste-related problems of India’s Dalit Muslims are rarely addressed, neither by the government nor their own religious community. Contrary to Dalit Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, they are not classified in the ‘scheduled caste’ category, but the fact remains that they often face similar types of discrimination as fellow Dalits of other religious backgrounds.
This has yet again been confirmed by a survey assessing ‘untouchability’ practices by non-Dalit Muslims and Hindus towards Dalit Muslims in the state of Uttar Pradesh. It clearly shows that such practices do exist – although at a lower level than caste discrimination against Dalit Hindus.
Read the full article by the International Dalit Solidarity Network: http://idsn.org/millions-dalit-muslims-face-caste-discrimination/; and see the Aljazeera documentary on Dalit Muslims in India: https://www.youtube.com/embed/g8K8jxTsUXg.
IndiaNews - May 24, 2016
New report Human Rights Watch: India: Stop Treating Critics As Criminals - Government Should Repeal or Amend All Laws Threatening Free Speech
The Indian authorities routinely use vaguely worded, overly broad laws as political tools to silence and harass critics, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The government should repeal or amend laws that are used to criminalize peaceful expression.
India’s Constitution protects the right to freedom of speech and expression, but recent and colonial-era laws, such as sedition and criminal defamation, not only remain on the books but are frequently used in an attempt to clampdown on critics.
“India’s abusive laws are the hallmark of a repressive society, not a vibrant democracy,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Putting critics in prison or even forcing them to defend themselves in lengthy and expensive court proceedings undermines the government’s efforts to present India as a modern country in the Internet age committed to free speech and the rule of law.” The 108-page report, Stifling Dissent: The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in India, details how criminal laws are used to limit and chill free speech in India.
Read the full press release of HRW (https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/05/24/india-stop-treating-critics-criminals) and the report (https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/05/24/stifling-dissent/criminalization-peaceful-expression-india).
Budhpura Cobble Traders Union: From advocating existence of child labour to becoming a protector of child rights
This is the story of Budhpura, a small village in Taleda Block in the Bundi District of Rajasthan. The main industry in this area is stone quarrying and the production of Sandstone setts. It’s estimated that 85% of the population in this area work in or rely on the natural stone industry for their livelihoods.
There are many yards in and around Budhpura involved in the production, grading and sorting of cobbles. Owners of the largest yards came together to form the cobble traders union.
Before Manjari started to work in the area, the majority of children in Budhpura and the surrounding villages were out of school and working in the cobble yards. The objective of the Child Labour Free Zones Project is that all children have the right to an education and to enjoy childhood. Children were visibly working in the cobble yards around Budhpura, so engaging with the owners of the cobble yards became the prime focus for the Manjari project team.
Read the May 2016 and earlier blogs on getting children from cobble yards to school: http://nochildleftbehind.co.uk/.
UN Special Rapporteur criticises India’s FCRA ['foreign funding law']
A controversial piece of Indian legislation could be used to silence organisations that criticize the government. It contravenes the country’s international human rights obligations, a UN expert says.
India’s controversial Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) has come under attack by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of assembly and association, Maina Kiai. In a recently published legal analysis, he argues that the Act does not conform with international law, principles and standards.
The much criticised piece of legislation restricts the ability of civil society organisations to receive foreign funding. However, the Special Rapporteur argues that such access is a fundamental part of the right to freedom of association under international law.
Furthermore, the analysis states that the Act fails to provide convincing legal arguments for restricting access to foreign funding for organisations that engage in activities of a ‘political nature’. The FCRA applies this term broadly to include organisations of farmers, workers, students and youth based on caste, community, religion, language or otherwise.
Read the full article by IDSN and the analyses by Maina Kiai: http://idsn.org/un-special-rapporteur-criticises-indias-fcra/.
Global conference urged to discuss rights of 300 million Dalit and indigenous women
IWGIA and IDSN call on the participants in the Women Deliver Conference in Copenhagen to address discrimination against hundreds of millions of Dalit and indigenous women.
When leaders and activists from all over the world gather in Copenhagen next week to focus on the health and human rights of girls and women, their discussions must include two large groups that suffer extreme social exclusion and marginalisation, the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) and the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) said in their press release on 11 May 2016.
The organisations work to address the respective problems of indigenous people and people subjected to caste discrimination. Together, these groups number more than 300 million women and girls, who are subjected to multiple forms of discrimination due to gender, poverty, low social status and – in the case of the Dalits – caste.
Read the full article and background documents: http://idsn.org/global-conference-urged-discuss-rights-300-million-dalit-indigenous-women/.
Photo Jakob Carlsen: Dalit women in India – they and indigenous women are among the most marginalised people on the planet.
UN expert: India should legislate against housing discrimination
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing has completed a 12-day visit to India during which she expressed concern about India’s legacy of discrimination against Dalits and other marginalised groups.
India needs legislation to combat all forms of “de facto housing discrimination” against any individual or groups, including Dalits, the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Farha, said at the conclusion of her visit to India from 11-22 April.
The call for legislative measures was one of numerous recommendations that the Special Rapporteur offered in a comprehensive press statement released in New Delhi on 22 April. She devoted much attention to the situation of vulnerable groups, such as scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, the official terms for Dalits and Adivasi.
“I am extremely concerned for the millions of people who experience exclusion, discrimination, evictions, insecure tenure, homelessness and who lack hope of accessing affordable and adequate housing in their lifetimes,” Ms Farha warned. “I have been told that evictions are most often carried out against the most vulnerable populations most of whom are living below the poverty line. Forced evictions are often implemented without any consultation with residents, without sufficient or any notice, and commonly result in homelessness,” she said.
Read the full article and Leilani Farha’s press statement: http://idsn.org/un-expert-india-legislate-housing-discrimination/.
New Publication: Beauty and a Beast - Child labour in India for sparkling cars and cosmetics
This report focuses on child labour in Jharkhand/Bihar for mica mining and processing, and the role of Dutch companies and main manufacturers of pearlescent pigments globally. The mica mining area of Jharkhand/Bihar comprises an estimated 300 rural villages, and child labour occurs in these remote villages, including collecting/mining mica and cobbing (hammering minerals other than mica from the mined rocks – the first stage of mica processing). At the time of writing (2016), the number of child labourers involved in mica mining in Jharkhand/Bihar is estimated to be up to 20,000.
Read the complete report: http://www.somo.nl/publications-nl/Publication_4297/.
New publication: No Golden Future - Use of child labour in gold mining in Uganda
Almost 15,000 children are working in small-scale and artisanal gold mining in Uganda, Africa. The majority of these children come into contact with extremely toxic mercury. Nearly every day. The release of mercury is very harmful, both for people and the environment. This is the conclusion of a study called No Golden Future by SOMO commissioned by the Stop Child Labour campaign.
Download the report here: http://www.stopchildlabour.eu/assets/No-golden-future.pdf.
IndiaNews - March 24, 2016
ILO asks Indian Government to react to statement by ITUC on forced labour in textile industry
ILO's Committee of Experts on the Application on Conventions and
Recommendations has requested the Indian government to react to
observations by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the
Garment Labour Union (GLU) about forced labour and other labour rights
violations in the textile industry in Tamil Nadu affecting a large number
of young women employed in spinning mills.
ITUC observes: "Children, mostly aged between 15 and 18, but some as
young as 12, 13 and 14 are trafficked in spinning mills ... under a labour
scheme often referred to as 'Sumangali'. While employers have stopped
using this name, the practice of employment schemes that pay out a lump
sum after a 3-5 years contractual period has been fulfilled, continues to
exist." ... "Recruitment is targeted at young, Dalit women and girls..."
ITUC also refers to "excessive working hours and overtime, low wages,
child labour, no access to grievance mechanisms or redress, unsafe and
unhealthy working conditions, with accidents and physical and verbal
abuse, including sexual harassment and other forms of violence..." and
concludes "that forced labour and trafficking occur on large scale in the
South Indian textile industry."
Read the letters by ITUC and GLU and a recent article on the issue by a
senior ILO expert: http://www.indianet.nl/forced-labour-textile-industry.html.
New UN report: Caste systems violate human rights of millions worldwide
21 March 2016 - At least 250 million people worldwide still face appalling
and dehumanising discrimination based on caste and similar systems of
inherited status, warned the United Nations expert on minority issues
while presenting finding to the UN Human Rights Council.
"This is a global problem affecting communities in Asia, Africa, Middle
East, the Pacific region and in various diaspora communities," said UN
Special Rapporteur Rita Izsák-Ndiaye in a news release, stressing that
"caste-based discrimination and violence goes against the basic principles
of universal human dignity and equality, as it differentiates between
'inferior' and 'superior' categories of individuals which is
Read the new release of UN
Special Rapporteur Rita Izsák-Ndiaye: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=18497&LangID=E.
Read the full UN press release: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsId=53511#.VvKtaTGk3Wg; and the report and the
statement of Human Rights Watch, Minority Rights Group and the
International Dalit Solidarity Network: http://idsn.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/UN-Expert-calls-for-end-to-caste-discrimination-Press-release-IDSN-HRW-MRG.pdf.
Stop Child Labour Coalition: Reporting on results
Stop Child Labour (SCL) consists of six Dutch organizations and partner
organizations in India and a range of African countries. In May 2014 SCL
started the Out of Work and into School project as part of its mission to
eliminate and remediate all forms of child labour linked to the right to
education for all children, while between it implemented the programme
Omar's Dream between 2012and 2015.
The Out of Work... programme works on strengthening and expanding child
labour free zones in India and Africa, where possible and relevant with
the active participation of CSR initiatives and companies. It also works
through advocacy and engagement on making supply chains of companies free
of child labour in sectors like textiles, footwear, coffee, gold and
natural stones and engages with policy makers at various levels.
Here you can find the final report report of Omar's Dream and two
progress reports of Out of Work and into School: http://www.indianet.nl/SKA-ReportingOnResults.html.
Stitching Our Shoes - Homeworkers in South India
How much do you know about the women who stitch our shoes?
Homeworking is standard part of the production process for many leather
shoes. Around the South Indian city of Ambur thousands of women work at
home hand stitching the uppers for shoes which are exported to big brands
and shops in Europe. Their work is poorly paid, insecure, and damaging to
their health - and homeworkers have no protection such as health insurance
or social security for when they are ill or unable to work.
This in-depth report details the role homeworkers play in global supply
chains, the effect of gender and caste discrimination on workers, the
conditions they work in, and what homeworkers themselves are doing to
change things. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for
companies and governments outlining the changes they need to make to
ensure fair treatment of homeworkers.
See the report Stitching our shoes: http://www.indianet.nl/ka-shoes.html [Picture Heather Stilwell/Labour Behind the Label].
The women who refuse to do India's dirtiest job
Ranikumari Khokar is campaigning to end a caste-based practice that
condemns women to cleaning human waste by hand.
"Every morning I would take a broom and tin plate to the homes of the
upper caste thakurs to pick up their faeces. I would collect the waste in
a cane basket and later throw it in a dumping ground outside the village."
As you watch a confident Ranikumari Khokar educate a group of boys and
girls on how to file a police case, it is hard to imagine that this
21-year-old spent most of her adolescence working as a scavenger. Today
she is a "barefoot lawyer", an initiative started by Jan Sahas (http://www.jansahasindia.org/), an NGO
that has been campaigning against the practice of manual scavenging for 12
years. Since the launch of the programme in 2014, 800 girls and young
women have been trained in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Read the full article in The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2016/mar/01/the-women-who-refuse-to-do-indias-dirtiest-job.
EFA Persecution Report 2015
"Religious minorities in India continue to live under threat".
"Religious minorities in India continue to live under the threat of
physical violence, state harassment and repressive laws that severely curb
Freedom of Religion and Belief ... With 177 cases documented in 2015 after
careful scrutiny, the Christian community which is a mere 2.3 per cent of
the country's population [2011 Census], continues to be a major target of
violence. The actual volume of violent persecution is not known. State
agencies are reluctant to speak on this matter and governments do not keep
records unless local police register formal cases under the Indian Penal
and Criminal Procedure codes."
"The persecution of Christians is also seen within the larger context of
sustained violence and persecution of India's very large Muslim community
- at more than 14 per cent of the population, the second largest in the
world after Indonesia."
See the full report: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1121995494181&ca=a991d1ac-6b6d-40cf-b96e-27ae2dba5552.
IndiaNews - March 11, 2016
Broad support for plan to eliminate child labour and other rights
violations from the garment and textile industry
(Press release Stop Child Labour, March 9, 2016)
Stop Child Labour welcomes the broad support
for the elimination of child labour, forced (child) labour, low wages and
other abuses in the global garment and textile industry. Sector
associations, the government, trade unions and civil society organizations
- including Stop Child Labour - have agreed on a 'covenant' to address
these issues in the coming years.
Unique to this Covenant, among other things, is that child labour and
other abuses "from cotton to garments clothing" will be identified and
addressed within three to five years. One of the specific goals is that
companies within three years only source from suppliers in South India who
do not use child labour and forced labour. From the third year on the
participating garment companies will also "publicly communicate" about
The covenant will be signed by the organizations involved and the
government only if within three months at least 35 companies, who
represent together at least one-third of the sales in the Netherlands,
will join this initiative. For years now Stop Child Labour has argued in
favour of an approach to address child labour in the whole supply. It
encourages garment companies to participate actively with the newly
developed 'national approach'. A second condition for the success of this
plan is that the financing of the covenant is agreed on, also in order to
have a secretariat which reviews the plans and progress of the
Read here the full press release and the text of the Covenant: http://www.indianet.nl/pb160309e.html.
And here the press release of the Dutch Social and Economic Council on
behalf of all the Covenant parties: http://www.ser.nl/en/publications/news/2016309-coalition-agreement-sustainable-garment-textile.aspx.
IndiaNews - January 28, 2016
Unfree and Unfair - Young migrant garment workers in Bangalore, India
The paper Unfree and Unfair published by the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) gives evidence of appalling living conditions and restricted freedom of movement of young migrant garment workers in the Indian city of Bangalore. An increasing number of young migrant women workers are staying in factory-owned hostels with poor living conditions while their movement is severely restricted. The wages of the workers do not add up to a decent living wage.
The hostels are run by garment factories in Bangalore that produce for leading multinational brands like C&A, H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, Inditex and GAP. The first four companies promised a number of specific actions to provide migrant garment workers with better living conditions in Bangalore.
Unfree and Unfair explains the conditions for migrant workers in four garment factories – K Mohan, Texport Industries, Arvind and Shahi Exports – located in Bangalore, the major hub for the garment industry in South India. Arvind Ltd. Exports produces garments for H&M and Shahi Exports is a long term supplier for C&A. The research is based on a mix of desk research and interviews with 110 workers, additional discussions with workers from other factories and interviews with members of the Garment Labour Union (GLU) in Bangalore.
Find the full press release and the paper here: http://www.indianet.nl/pb160128e.html.
IndiaNews - December 21, 2015
Report: Dalits hit hard by 2015 flooding in India, no relief in sight
An assessment report of the situation in Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu,
following devastating floods on 9 November, 2015, finds that Dalit
households are the main victims of the flood and are not receiving relief
from the Government, despite non-Dalits having received such relief.
Statistics in the Cuddalore report reveal that 95% of the houses that were
found damaged due to the flooding, are Dalit houses, while Dalits have not
received any shelter relief from the Government. The report No Respite
for Dalits in Disaster Response, Tamil Nadu has been released by National
Dalit Watch and Social Awareness Society for Youth - Tamil Nadu.
Read the full article and report: http://idsn.org/20288-2/.
Seed companies involved in child labour and low wages in vegetable seed production in India - 156.000 Indian children produce vegetable seeds
Almost 156.000 Indian children are producing vegetable seeds, of which
50.000 are below 14 years of age. All of them are exposed to harsh working
conditions, including poisonous pesticides and long working days. They
mostly drop out of school between 11 and 13 years of age. Multinationals
like Limagrain (French), Sakata (Japanese), Advanta (Indian) and East-West
Seed (Dutch) had between 10 and 16% children below 14 years working at
farmers producing seeds for them. Indian companies show similar figures.
All companies have around 30% adolescents working on supplier farms.
These are key findings from the new study Soiled Seeds - Child Labour and
Underpayment of Women in Vegetable Seed Production in India by Dr.
Davuluri Venkateswarlu. Another key finding from the report is that women
are mostly not paid the official minimum wage for their work. They are
generally assigned tasks that pay less than work performed by men:
depending on the region between 11 and 47% less than the official minimum
wage. Multinationals´ suppliers do not perform better on wages than Indian
Download the full media release and the report: http://www.indianet.nl/pb151123e.html.
Parliamentary questions on this issue to the Dutch government with answers: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/kv151218e.pdf.
Report of workshop of seed companies and NGOs to address child labour and
wage issues: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/WorkshopSeeds150828.pdf.
Article by Harsh Mander in The Hindu, December 12, 2015.
"Children and adolescents, mostly girls, toil in factories in conditions
of near-slavery. This is the hidden face of manufacturing units in the
flourishing industrial hubs of Tamil Nadu.
Until the 1980s, spinning factories mainly employed adult male workers in
secure conditions of employment, with lawful wages and basic social
security. Over the last 30 years, these workers have been replaced
substantially by children labouring in what is called the `camp coolie
system´. This atrocious arrangement confines tens of thousands of child
and teenage workers in locked hostels, and compels them to toil almost
without a break in conditions of semi-bondage for 10 hours or more a
day... Many global brands source their products from the state."
Read the full article: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/Harsh_Mander/twilight-children/article7980662.ece; read more about the role of these global brands: http://www.indianet.nl/pb141028e.html.
Massive child labour used for gold in mobile phones - Almost no action by electronics companies to prevent child labour in gold
Globally, more than one million children are working in the gold mining
industry according to new estimates. The number is growing, for example in
the African country Mali, the number of children working in the gold
mining industry has increased almost tenfold in recent years: from 20,000
to 200,000 children. The gold they mine ends up at electronics
manufacturers who use it to make our mobile phones, computers and other
consumer electronics. These are some key findings from the SOMO report
Gold from children´s hands, commissioned by the Stop Child Labour
Electronics companies do almost nothing to combat child labour in gold
mines, while the probability is very high that the gold ends up in their
products. India´s gold refineries capacity continues to grow and are also
importing raw material (doré) from Africa.
Read the full press release, the report and sign the petition: http://www.indianet.nl/pb1511e.html.
The ILO-IOE child labour Guidance Tool for business
Press Release ILO-IOE, Dec 15, 2015: The International Labour Organization
(ILO) and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) have launched
a new resource to increase companies' knowledge and ability to conduct
business in line with international labour standards on child labour. The
ILO-IOE child labour guidance tool for business aims to improve global
supply chain governance, due diligence and remediation processes to
advance the progressive elimination of child labour.
Companies from the food and beverage, apparel and mining sectors, and
business members of the ILO-UN Global Compact Child Labour Platform were
integrally involved in the research and development of the Guidance.
See the full press release and the Guidance Tool: http://www.ilo.org/ipec/news/WCMS_436285/lang--en/index.htm.
Indian Schools Are Failing Their Students
Article by Geeta Kingdon in The New York Times, December 15, 2015.
"For the first time in more than two decades, the Indian government is
conducting a comprehensive review of its education policy. The goal is to
devise an approach better adapted to the 'changing dynamics of the
population', namely its youthfulness, in order to make India a 'knowledge
superpower'. It´s about time, because India´s education policy has gone
dangerously off track since the implementation of the 2009 Right to
Education Act (RTE Act). The law, which was designed to guarantee a good
education to all Indian children between the ages of 6 and 14, was hailed
as a landmark reform. But six years on, school enrollment has hardly
improved, and actual learning has sharply deteriorated."
Read the full article in The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/16/opinion/indian-schools-are-failing-their-students.html?_r=1#.
Still too many children out of school
Article by Oommen C Kurian in The Hindu Business Line, October 28, 2015.
Government surveys on out-of-school children are gross underestimations.
The Census numbers, however, are a shocker. Census 2011 showed that about
32 million children aged between 6 and 13 years have never attended any
educational institution, even though government estimates of out-of-school
children show substantially lower numbers. Given that out-of-school
numbers consist of both children who dropped out and those who never
attended school, it raises some questions over the numbers thrown up by
the periodic National Surveys on estimation of `out of school children´.
Read the full article: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/still-too-many-children-out-of-school/article7814794.ece?homepage=true.
IndiaNews - October 20, 2015
Rajasthan High Court asks Government to respond to ICN-report Cotton’s Forgotten Children
The Rajasthan High Court has asked the government to respond to the report Cotton’s Forgotten Children by the India Committee of the Netherlands and Stop Child Labour coalition. The report shows that almost half a million Indian children are working to produce cottonseed in India. Around 200,000 of them are below 14 years of age of which around 100.000 in Gujarat. Many of them are trafficked from the bordering state of Rajasthan. The Court made its comments in a public interest litigation on the issue of lack of development of tribal areas ‘despite the tall claims made by the state Government about the development of the tribal areas in Rajasthan’ (see Rajasthan Patrika, 17-8-2015: http://www.indianet.nl/150817e.html).
Children below 14 years constitute around 25% of the workforce on the fields of the farmers that supply their seeds to both Indian and multinational companies. Another 35% of the workforce are children between 14 and 18 years of age. A Member of Parliament in The Netherlands raised questions on the issue which were answered in September 2015: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/kv150911e.pdf.
Download the ICN-report Cotton’s Forgotten Children: http://www.indianet.nl/pb150723e.html.
UN Rapporteur: legislation on transparency and human rights due diligence by companies needed
Recently UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Mrs. Urmila Bhoola, published a report on forms of slavery in supply chains of companies. The report mentions the ‘significant risk of contemporary forms of slavery’ in the garment and textile sector, also referring to the report Flawed Fabrics of SOMO and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN). Similarly on the mining sector it refers to the report Rock Bottom of ICN and the Stop Child Labour Coalition.
The report states: "The demand for cheap labour meets a ready supply of workers from vulnerable groups: indigenous people, minorities, those considered to be from the “lowest castes” and migrants, especially those in an irregular situation. Women workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation in certain sectors given the nexus of gender discrimination and inequality."
One of its recommendations is: "States are strongly encouraged to adopt effective legislation requiring transparency in supply chains, human rights due diligence throughout supply chains, public reporting and disclosures of businesses, as well as measures relating to procurement practices, and to guarantee its implementation."
See the full 22 page report here: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/A_HRC_30_35_ENG.pdf.
Stakeholder consultation: Building Partnership to overcome challenges – Cobble Making in Budhpura
Manjari, an Indian NGO working towards Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZ) in the sandstone quarry area Dhabi-Budhpura, recently organized a stakeholder consultation. Manjari combats child labour in the production of sandstone cobbles by systematically withdrawing children from work and enrolling them into formal schools. Engagement with all relevant stakeholder, including parents, teachers, government officials and the private sector is key to gradually creating a CLFZ. The initiative is also supported by European natural stone companies Beltrami and London Stone.
In the one-day stakeholder consultation government officials, PRIs (Panchayati Raj Institution) representatives, cobble traders, NGOs like Stop Child Labour, CSR initiatives (TFT-RSP & ETI), business leaders, cobble makers, self-help group members, importing companies and their suppliers participated. The event aimed to sensitize all relevant stakeholders on the challenges on e.g. improving the quality of education, paying decent wages and tackling health and safety hazards in producing cobbles and sandstone.
Read the full report of the Consultation: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/BuildingPartnership.pdf.
More information on Child Labour Free Zones: http://www.stopchildlabour.eu/child-labour-free-zones/ or http://www.indianet.nl/clfz_e.html.
Over 3200 people held in administrative detention - ‘lawless laws’ must be scrapped in India
The continuing use of administrative detention laws in India to lock up persons without charge or trial violates the rights of both suspects and victims of human rights abuses. An interactive online map published by Amnesty International India shows how several states continue to retain these laws to detain people on executive orders without charge or trial.
“Every government has a duty to bring to justice those suspected of crimes. But every government also has a duty to respect fair trial rights, and the criminal justice system loses credibility when people are detained for no good reason,” said Abhirr VP, Rapid Response Campaigner at Amnesty International India.
“Administrative detention circumvents the safeguards of a fair trial, and undermines the rule of law.” The Supreme Court has called administrative detention statutes ‘lawless laws’.
Data from the National Crime Records Bureau released in September 2015 indicate that over 3200 people were being held in administrative detention in Indian jails in December 2014.
For the interactive online map, visit https://www.amnesty.org.in/lawlesslaws/.
End all forms of forced labour in the garment sector: Report of the National Consultation
On 27th of May a National Consultation on the issue of forced labour in the garment industry in Tamil Nadu was held in New Delhi. It was organized by READ from Tamil Nadu, the Dalit Solidarity Network UK, the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights and supported by TRAID.
The setting: "an estimated 4.000 textiles mills where about 250,000 are ‘employed’ under camp labour schemes. Among them the majority from Tamil Nadu are Dalits. The inter-state migrant women work force is increasing. The average age of the workers is between 15 - 18 years (80-90% of the workforce)" and "instead of decent wages, comfortable accommodation and payment of a lump sum amount promised at the end of a 3 year contract, the worker is actually made to toil for a pittance and their labour rights are violated in indecent working and living conditions."
Read the report and its recommendations: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/EndAllFormsOfForcedLabourInTheGarmentSector.pdf.
Historic amendment to India’s caste atrocities legislation passed in the Lok Sabha
In a victory for the Dalit movement in India and for all committed to justice and equality, a historic bill amending the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) legislation has been passed in the lower house of the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha. The National Coalition on Strengthening PoA Act (NCSPA) have struggled for six years to ensure amendments to this act strengthening the rights of the victims and witnesses, improving access to justice and introducing preventative measures. The bill now remains to be passed in the Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Indian Parliament) also, scheduled for December.
Read the article and amendment: http://idsn.org/historic-amendment-to-indias-caste-atrocity-legislation-passed-in-the-lok-sabha-lower-house-of-parliament/.
IndiaNews - July 30, 2015
New report Cotton’s Forgotten Children: Almost half a million Indian children produce cottonseed – Women are underpaid
Almost half a million – mostly Dalit and Adivasi - Indian children are working to produce the cottonseed. Around 200,000 of them are below 14 years of age. This is one of the shocking results of the new study Cotton’s Forgotten Children by India’s long-term expert on the issue, Dr. Davuluri Venkateswarlu.
It is equally shocking that the number of children working in the cotton seed fields has increased with almost 100,000 since 2010. Children below 14 constitute around 25% of the workforce on the fields of the farmers that supply their seeds to both Indian and multinational companies. Another 35% of the workforce are children between 14 and 18 years of age. The report criticises the Indian state governments, especially those of Gujarat and Rajasthan, for ‘not paying serious attention to tackle the issue’ and ‘being in the denying mood’. On the role of the seed companies it states: ‘The response of the seed industry as a whole to address the problem of child labour is minimal’.
Read the full press release and report: http://www.indianet.nl/pb150723e.html.
See also the questions raised on the issue in Dutch parliament: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/kv150729e.pdf.
New Handbook: Stepping Stones towards creating Child Labour Free Zones
To share experiences and inspire others to implement and support the area-based approach towards child labour free zones, the international Stop Child Labour movement has developed a handbook with experiences from around the world. The ‘5 x 5 stepping stones’ presented in this handbook are based on the stories and strategies of NGOs, unions and child labour free zone members worldwide. The handbook shows that - in spite of poverty - it is really possible to get children out of work and into school. Any organisation or group of organisations that wants to promote education and combat child labour can adopt the child labour free zone concept. This handbook can be used by community-based organisations, NGOs and unions, but is also insightful for donors, companies and policymakers who want to learn about this innovative approach to stopping child labour.
Find the Handbook here: http://www.indianet.nl/SteppingStones.html.
India: Government dumps the Court’s Order in a sewer
More than 180,000 rural households continue to engage in manual scavenging in India, despite the inhuman practice being repeatedly outlawed by the Parliament and Judiciary. This is the state a year after the launch of Clean India Mission), a flagship scheme of the present government, covering 4,041 towns, aiming to clean the streets, roads, and infrastructure of the country. Manual scavenging remains a reality, two and a half years after the Supreme Court last outlawed the practice, fixing responsibility with the chief executive officer of civic bodies for continuation of the practice. The data about the continuation of manual scavenging in these 180,657 rural households comes from the recently released findings of the Socio-Economic and Caste Census, 2011, conducted by the Ministry of Rural Development.
Read the full article by the Asian Human Rights Commission: http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-114-2015.
Dalit and Adivasi women’s march for self-respect meets violence, injustice and police negligence
Women being beaten, raped, stripped naked and paraded through their villages and a rape case as barbaric as the 2012 Nirbhaya case. These and a whole host of other atrocities were what the women marching for self-respect, and to end violence against Dalit and Adivasi women in the state of Odisha, India, came across on their path to justice.
The march (Yatra) took place from the 1st of June to the 10th of June and passed through 11 districts in the state of Odisha. The march was organised by the national level Dalit Women’s movement – AIDMAM, following on the from the previous Dalit Women Self-Respect marches in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Maharashtra states. This march in Odisha united Dalit and Adivasi women together to fight for justice.
Read the full article: http://idsn.org/dalit-and-adivasi-womens-march-for-self-respect-in-india-meets-violence-injustice-and-police-negligence/.
The case of sustainable poverty in rural India
"In what appears to be a damning indictment of the Five Year Plans, launched in 1951, as well as the economic reforms process that began in 1991, the first ever socio-economic survey has painted a dismal picture of rural India. What emerges clear from the first ever socio-economic survey is that for 70 per cent of India’s 125-crore [1.25 billion] population, which lives in rural areas, poverty is the way of life.
Rural India is poorer than what was estimated all these years. With the highest income of an earning member in 75 per cent of the rural households not exceeding Rs 5,000 a month, and with 51 per cent households surviving on manual labour as the primary source of income, the socio-economic survey has exposed the dark underbelly of rural India. Whether it was Garibi Hatao or Shining India, all the talk of development has not enabled rural India to emerge out of poverty. Whether we like it or not, poverty has remained robustly sustainable."
Read the full article by Devinder Sharma on India Together: http://indiatogether.org/poverty-in-rural-india-poverty.
IndiaNews - June 18, 2015
Dutch government worried about shrinking space for civil society in India
In reaction to parliamentary questions the Dutch Minister of Trade and Development Cooperation said: "In India, but also in other countries, the government observes that the space for international NGOs to operate is more and more limited. The governments sees this as a worrying development." Relating to a black list of NGOs set up by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, which also includes various Dutch organizations, the Minister said: "I am aware that the Indian Ministry of Interior has taken measures making the work for a number of Dutch and other foreign NGOs in India more difficult and hindering the cooperation with local Indian NGOs. This trend has already been going on for some time."
The questions were raised by an MP of the Labour Party just before Dutch Prime Minister Rutte visited India between 4 and 6 June with a business delegation of around 100 companies. The questions were based on an Open Letter by six NGOs (including Amnesty International, Greenpeace, ICCO and ICN) and trade unions asking the PM to raise the issue of freedom of organization and speech in India with the Indian government. During the visit this issue was raised by the Dutch Minister of Trade and Development Co-operation with the Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs.
See the full parliamentary questions and answers on this issue: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/kv150615e.pdf.
Open Letter to Prime Minister Rutte: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/br150529e.pdf.
New measures to tighten control over NGOs in India
The Indian government has introduced a new declaration that the NGO must make that the foreign aid received by it will not be used for activities "detrimental to national interest, likely to affect public interest, or likely to prejudicially affect the security, scientific, strategic or economic interest of the state", reports the (Indian) Economic Times which also states: "Every NGO will now have to put out details within one week on its website about each foreign contribution received by it while banks will have to report the same to the government within 48 hours of such a receipt, the Centre has proposed as part of a PMO-initiated exercise to tighten monitoring over NGOs in the country".
See the full article in The Economic Times: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/make-public-every-foreign-donation-within-a-week-government-tells-ngos/articleshow/47715193.cms.
Urgent appeal to combat caste discrimination in Nepal earthquake relief efforts
IDSN reports: "A rapid assessment report of the situation of Dalit communities following the Earthquakes in Nepal, has found that Dalits are discriminated in the distribution of post-earthquake relief materials, receiving less aid than those from castes ranking higher in Nepal’s caste system. Inequality in access to rescue and relief provisions for Dalit communities is documented in Waiting for "Justice in Response", released by the Dalit Civil Society Massive Earthquake Victim Support and Coordination Committee and the Asia Dalit Rights Forum (ADRF). The report covers 37 villages, in the ten worst affected districts in Nepal."
The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the situation after the earthquake in Nepal which includes: "thousands in need of aid following the earthquakes risk [are] being left to fend for themselves amid worrying signs that gender, caste and ethnic discrimination is inhibiting the aid effort; more than half the country’s Dalit community is still waiting for shelter and food rations". The Parliament calls on the Government of Nepal "to ensure that aid reaches those who need it, regardless of who they are and where the aid is coming from".
Read the article by IDSN: http://idsn.org/urgent-appeal-to-combat-caste-discrimination-in-nepal-earthquake-relief-efforts/.
Download the report Waiting for "Justice in Response": http://idsn.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/REPORT-OF-IMMEDIATE-ASSESSMENT-Relief-for-Dalits-in-NEPAL-2015.pdf.
The resolution adopted by the European Parliament: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+MOTION+P8-RC-2015-0580+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN.
ITUC report: India, Bangladesh and Pakistan ranked under ‘No guarantee of rights’
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Global Rights Index depicts the world’s worst countries for workers by rating 141 countries on a scale from 1-5 based on the degree of respect for workers’ rights. ITUC has been documenting and exposing violations of workers’ rights for three decades through narrative information. In 2014, the ITUC Global Rights Index was developed for the first time in order to increase the visibility and transparency of each country’s record on workers’ rights. The ITUC Global Rights Index also serves as a tool to track trends across the world every time changes in policies or legislation take place.
South-Asian countries India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are all ranked 5 (‘No guarantee of rights’) and Nepal 4 (‘Systematic violation of rights’).
Read the full report: http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/survey_global_rights_index_2015_en.pdf.
Stop Child Labour has a new website
"Together we can stop child labour. By no longer accepting it, not in mines, not on fields, not in factories, not domestic settings and not in the products we buy."
The new website informs you about what Child Labour Free zones are, but also about the contribution to the elimination of child labour by corporate responsibility, policies and regulations and conscious consumption.
See the website here: http://www.stopchildlabour.eu/.
India Briefing SOAS April-May 2015: ‘A government of headlines’
In its latest briefing the India Study Group of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, looks at the situation one year into the rule of the National Democratic Alliance government. "The latest India Briefing looks at the developing situation in the world's largest democracy. The forces represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi continue to be popular, but there is also a strong perception that they have reached the limits of their influence - and hence 'politics as usual' is coming back. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen." The briefing deals with issues like ‘a government of headlines’, ‘natural resource regulation reform, or is it regression?’, the entrenchment of the cultural right wing’, ‘has politics returned to normal?’ and more.
See the briefing of the India Study Group: https://indiastudygroup.org/india-briefings/9-india-briefing-june-2015.
IndiaNews - June 11, 2015
Say Goodbye to Child Labour: Manual Stepping Stones for Child Labour Free Zones presented to Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
Ahead of the International Day against Child Labour on 12 June, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, has today been presented the manual 5 x 5 Stepping Stones for creating Child Labour Free Zones authored by the Stop Child Labour coalition. The practical handbook has in May already been presented in a Child Labour Free Zone Uganda. The Minister promised Stop Child Labour to promote the Manual and the Child labour Free Zone approach at various levels.
The past three years Stop Child Labour has – inspired by the work of the Indian MV Foundation - worked to create and expand Child Labour Free Zones in Africa. Through these efforts 27 thousand children have been removed from work and returned back in school. The experience of our African partners in realisation Child Labour Free Zones was the inspiration for the manual, which also enables others to get started with this approach.
See the Manual here: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/pb150611.pdf.
Diluting India's child labour law will trap families in cycle of poverty
"An amendment to the act that was set to make child labour illegal will push millions of marginalised children in India into work rather than education"
The Indian government is making severe cuts to budgets that address discrimination and the welfare of the country’s most marginalised people. In a deeply flawed strategy, they are relaxing legislation on child labour as a means to alleviate poverty.
An amendment to India’s Child Labour Prohibition Act seeks to permit children under 14 to work in “family enterprises”, a euphemism for industries such as carpet-weaving, beedi (cigarette) rolling and gem-polishing. Altering the act that was otherwise set to make all forms of child labour illegal will push millions of children into work rather than education, particularly Dalits (those at the bottom of India’s caste system), Adivasi and Muslims.
Read the full Op-Ed on The Guardian’s website: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/may/18/india-child-labour-law-families-poverty.
Urgent appeal to combat caste discrimination in Nepal earthquake relief efforts
A rapid assessment report of the situation of Dalit communities following the earthquakes in Nepal, has found that Dalits are discriminated in the distribution of post-earthquake relief materials, receiving less aid than those from castes ranking higher in Nepal’s caste system.
Inequality in access to rescue and relief provisions for Dalit communities is documented in the Waiting for Justice in Response, released by the Dalit Civil Society Massive Earthquake Victim Support and Coordination Committee and the Asia Dalit Rights Forum (ADRF). The report covers 37 villages, in the ten worst affected districts in Nepal, and the committee behind the report includes members and advisors from 15 human rights and humanitarian civil society organisations. The report uncovered that sixty percent of Dalits interviewed felt there has been wilful negligence due to caste prejudice and that they experienced discrimination in relief and rescue services.
Read the full article and report: http://idsn.org/urgent-appeal-to-combat-caste-discrimination-in-nepal-earthquake-relief-efforts/.
Modi's one-year legacy: sharpening social conflicts, nervous religious minorities
Programmes like love jihad and ghar wapsi occurred against the backdrop of key state polls.
"Regardless of the extent of its own culpability, the Modi government in its first year of existence has reinforced, even enhanced, all the dark fears the religious minorities have had about living under a Bharatiya Janata Party regime enjoying a majority of its own. This hasn’t been a surprise. But what has been is the sharp increase in social tensions involving classes and myriad pressure groups.
This is reflected in the binaries the Modi government has spawned over the last 12 months. We have farmers pitted against industrialists, workers raging against their employers, civil society groups upset with the Indian state, and women decrying moves of regressive elements to curb their right to free choice."
Read the full article on scroll.in: http://scroll.in/article/726547/modis-one-year-legacy-sharpening-social-conflicts-fearful-religious-minorities.
From Slavery to Self Reliance: A Story of Dalit Women in South India
HuligeAmma, a Dalit woman in her mid-forties, bends over a sewing machine, carefully running the needle over the hem of a shirt. Sitting nearby is Roopa, her 22-year-old daughter, who reads an amusing message on her cell phone and laughs heartily.
The pair leads a simple yet contented life – they subsist on half a dollar a day, stitch their own clothes and participate in schemes to educate their community in the Bellary district of the Southwest Indian state of Karnataka.
But not so very long ago, both women were slaves. They have fought an exhausting battle to get to where they are today, pushing against two evils that lurk in this mineral-rich state: the practice of sexual slavery in Hindu temples, and forced labour in the illegal mines that dot Bellary District, home to 25 percent of India’s iron ore reserves. Finally free of the yoke of dual-slavery, they are determined to preserve their hard-won existence, humble though it may be.
Read the full article by Stella Paul: http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/04/from-slavery-to-self-reliance-a-story-of-dalit-women-in-south-india/.
IndiaNews - April 16, 2015
Study: Almost all 'Sumangali girls' have big physical and mental health problems
A study on the health status of teen age girls working in the spinning mills of Tamil Nadu was conducted by the organization Vaan Muhil between October 2015 and February 2015. The results are shocking.
"Instances of locking these minor girls below 15 in bathrooms or separate dark rooms are common in the mills, when inspections take place... 84% of the respondents said that they had developed some health problem or other after working in the mills... Nearly 90% of the girls have developed arthritis pain... More than half of the girls suffer from chronic headache and nearly 73% of them suffer from insomnia... Verbal abuse and sexual harassment by supervisors is quite common... Almost 90% of the respondents strongly felt that they have psychological problems, after started working in the mills."
Read the full story and the report: http://www.indianet.nl/150331.html.
Annual Report International Dalit Solidarity Network
The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) published its Annual Report 2014. Some highlights:
• More UN Treaty Bodies than ever before address caste-based human rights violations in 2014.
• UN Special Rapporteurs commit to prioritise caste discrimination and attend to it across mandates.
• Keynote speech by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at IDSN co-organised UN side-event on caste-based discrimination and violence against women.
• UN top officials state concern on caste pointing at the emergence of a new norm.
• UN Special Rapporteur highlights the unjust deferral of IDSN's ECOSOC application at UN General Assembly.
See all the highlights and the full annual report: http://www.dalits.nl/dnn_idsn_e.html.
Indian government suspends Greenpeace's foreign funds - NGOs concerned about government's "attempts to silence criticism and dissent"
• govt. official says Greenpeace uses funds to "stall crucial development projects"
• civil society raises concerns over freedom of expression & clampdown for opposing infrastructure projects - many NGOs have also seen funds blocked
• courts ruled govt.'s previous suspension of funds was arbitrary & ordered unfreezing
See articles and documents on website http://business-humanrights.org/.
Indian girls in junior college: studying despite many odds
Millions of girls in contemporary India grapple with multiple challenges of existing practices of patriarchy, gender discrimination, violence and abuse, impoverishment and hunger and state deficit and yet reach up to the second year of junior college. This study by the MV Foundation focuses on such girls in the state of Telangana.
Ravali: "I work hard to earn for my college education and my mother, too, works without respite and makes enormous sacrifices as she says, 'I do not want my children to live a life like me'. Yet, unmindful of our conditions of living and our endeavor to study, the government has not even given our college a building of its own; we have no library, science lab, toilets, water or desks. We pay all kinds of fees."
See the full report: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/EducationOfFirstGenerationGirlStudents.pdf.
Resolution condemning caste-based discrimination introduced in US congress
The house resolution introduced on the 16th of March by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton condemns caste-based discrimination and asks for the international community to act on this. The 1st Global Conference on Dalit Rights, which took place in Washington DC from 19-21st of March honoured the Congresswoman for introducing the resolution and urged congress to show strong support for it.
The resolution, H.Res.158, was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives, "Condemning Dalit untouchability, the practice of birth-descent discrimination against Dalit people, which is widely practiced in India, Nepal, the Asian diaspora, and other South Asian nations, and calling on these countries to recognise the human rights of the Dalit people and end all forms of untouchability within their borders."
Read the full article: http://idsn.org/resolution-condemning-caste-based-discrimination-introduced-in-us-congress/.
Indian Dalit women meet North American Radical Women
A historical meeting of Dalit women leaders with North American Radical Women of Color and Trans Peoples Movements took place at Incite's Color of Violence Conference held in Chicago, end March 2015.
"Our small delegation of women from the All India Dalit Women's Rights Forum (AIDMAM) travelled to Chicago to represent the Dalit Women's Self-Respect March. We came to learn, share, and raise the critical questions we have about the intersections of caste and gender violence. We also wanted to learn more about the North American movements of radical women of color and trans people and how they understood intersectionality was key to ending violence in our communities."
Read the full article: http://www.dalits.nl/150331.html.
IndiaNews - March 16, 2015
Leading Dalit activists arrested for protesting massive cuts in budgets meant for Dalits
Leading Dalit activists arrested for protesting massive cuts in budgets meant for Dalit leader Paul Divakar and 29 other activists were arrested following a peaceful gathering of over 500 students gathered in front of the Indian parliament to protests severe cuts to budgets allocated to Dalit and Adivasi (Tribals) welfare and upholding of their rights. The arrests underscore a deeply concerning trend for Government stifling of voices of dissent in India.
Massive cuts to provisions for education of Dalits and Adivasis were central to the protest and public meeting, organised by the Campaign of Adivasis and Dalits for Rights on Education (CADRE 2201).
"The budgeted expenditure by the Modi government for the most marginalised sections – Dalits and Adivasis – of our country has seen a colossal decline this year. We strongly protest this unilateral reduction in budgets for Dalits and Adivasis," said Paul Divakar, general secretary of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR).
See the complete article by IDSN: http://idsn.org/leading-dalit-activists-arrested-for-protesting-massive-cuts-in-budgets-meant-for-dalits/. See also IDSN's Newsletter January-February 2015: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=f163ce279b014a73495809891&id=c7e02a1d58.
India Study Group: The Deepening Roots of Corruption and Cronyism: February 2015
Corruption is one of the oldest and most significant issues in India's administration and politics. In every election, politicians pledge to clean up corruption. It is widely held that the previous national government lost the elections after a series of very large scams were unearthed by government auditors. Moreover, the policymaking presumes a reasonably effective and efficient state, and in India's case these are eroded by arbitrary and perverse decision making.
The question is: what are the spaces for corruption and cronyism in the Indian system? Where do they spring from? And, most importantly - are they expanding or shrinking? In this Thematic Briefing, the India Study Group looks at these questions. We find that the spaces for corruption in India's institutional framework are centered around some basic problems, and these problems are getting worse. The possibilities for graft, cronyism and arbitrary decision making in India are expanding This expansion is very rapid in some institutions - such as the judiciary, intelligence services and natural resource regulation. Overall, erosion of institutions in India appears to be accelerating.
See this and other briefings of the India Study Group here: https://www.indiastudygroup.org/thematic-briefings.
New report: Mind the gap – on garment and electronics industry
Global brands are not doing enough to ensure a dignified life for workers in the garment and electronics industry in India.
That is the conclusion of the report Mind the Gap by the Norwegian NGO Future in Our Hands and the Indian NGO Cividep. The study compares working conditions and wages in two different global supply chains that cater to the European market with links to South India - the garment industry in Bangalore that produces apparel for well-known European retailers including H&M, a Swedish multinational, and Norwegian Varner Group as also the electronics industry in Sriperumbudur (near Chennai) where electronics companies Dell and Samsung (USA and Korea respectively) are manufacturing their products.
Read the full article and report: http://www.framtiden.no/english/supplychain/new-report-mind-the-gap.html.
Global advocates challenge electronics industry to prevent harm from toxic chemicals
There is growing evidence of illnesses and cancer among electronics workers.
On 16 March 2015, the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), an industry association representing over 100 electronics companies, meets in Brussels to discuss chemical management strategies. At this meeting, NGO representatives will deliver a formal Challenge to the electronics industry endorsed by more than 200 civil society groups from electronics production countries and across the globe, urging the industry to take meaningful actions to prevent harm and to be accountable to workers and nearby communities by improving chemical safety.
See the press release and the Challenge: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=414f575df296ba73d4ad19e78&id=f56f931b99&e=8a1cf9dc3a.
IndiaNews - February 26, 2015
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International’s 2015 reports raise serious concern over caste discrimination
The newly released Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 and the Amnesty International 2014-15 Report find that caste discrimination persists with adverse effects to human rights on multiple levels. Serious obstacles to access to justice, discrimination in education and access to services and caste-based violence, including rape of Dalit women, are among the key themes addressed in the reports.
In the India chapter of the Amnesty International 2014-15 Report it is noted that “corruption, caste-based discrimination and caste violence remained pervasive,” and that “state authorities often failed to prevent and at times committed crimes against Indian citizens, including children, women, Dalits and Adivasi (Indigenous) people.” The report also finds that “torture and other ill-treatment continued to be used in state detention, particularly against women, Dalits and Adivasis.” This concern is also raised in the Nepal chapter where it is noted that caste and other discrimination remained rife in Nepal and that “victims were subject to exclusion and ill-treatment, and torture including rape and other sexual violence.”
See the full article by IDSN: http://idsn.org/human-rights-watch-and-amnesty-internationals-2015-reports-raise-serious-concern-over-caste-discrimination/.
India’s blocking of IDSN’s UN consultative status continues
Despite serious concern raised by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of assembly and association and others, over the 8-year deferral of the International Dalit Solidarity Network’s (IDSN) application for UN consultative (ECOSOC) status, the unjust questioning of IDSN continues and the application is again deferred.
The blocking of IDSN reflects a frightening trend in India for obstructing the work of civil society organisations and human rights defenders, particularly when it comes to Dalit and minority rights. Dalit rights activists across India have been feeling the pressure from both official and unofficial levels, especially when it comes to speaking about caste discrimination to an international audience. The silencing of human rights defenders raising legitimate human rights concerns in international fora is extremely worrying and runs counter to the founding principles of democracy.
Read the full article by IDSN: http://idsn.org/indias-blocking-of-idsns-un-consultative-status-continues/.
How corruption and cronyism in India is getting worse
Corruption is one of the defining issues of Indian politics. What are the institutional roots of corruption in India? Why is corruption so widespread and what are its basic forms? Most importantly, is the space for corruption in India increasing or decreasing? The India Study Group's latest Thematic Briefing explores these questions. We also find that today those root problems are not being addressed - instead, they are being made worse. Coordinated by a group of eminent consulting editors and overseen by Dr. Subir Sinha at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the India Study Group is a collaboration of professionals from diverse fields. We provide concise briefings based on detailed, on the ground, rooted analysis.
Read the analysis of the India Study Group: https://www.indiastudygroup.org/thematic-briefings/7-the-deepening-roots-of-corruption-and-cronyism-february-2015.
Little Hands at Work on bangles
"I never gave much importance to the hands until today. I recall hearing a lecture titled Many Securities, delivered by my mentor Mr. P. Sainath, the eminent rural journalist, talking about the absurdity of UIDAI Aadhar card project by fingerprinting all citizens, he simply said: "In India, 15% plus population, because of agricultural labour, they do not have fingerprints, denying the very people who need the social security benefits...". His voice was resonating in my mind as I looked at this 5 year old kid’s hands today. This kid is one among those 300 children who were rescued from bangle making units in Hyderabad."
Read the full article by Badi Chowdi: https://childrightsinindia.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/little-hands-at-work/.
IndiaNews - January 29, 2015
Trafficking of children to cottonseed fields of Gujarat
An article by India Committee of the Netherlands based on the annual report 2014 of Dakshini Rajasthan Mazdoor Union, Udaipur, India.
Every year thousands of tribal children from South Rajasthan and North Gujarat are trafficked to cottonseed plots in North Gujarat for work in the cotton seed fields, in particular to do cross-pollination by hand. This work is done in the rainy season, from August to September. Since many years the trafficking of children for cottonseed cultivation is a serious human rights issue. The Dakshini Rajasthan Mazdoor Union aims to combat trafficking through the documentation of trafficking incidences, stopping trafficking of children where possible as well as advocacy with the media, the state government and other institutions. The Union also helped farmers to get paid in time – and not e.g. only after a year - for the seeds they produce for seed companies.
Read the full article: http://www.indianet.nl/150120e.html.
World Bank President and UN Secretary-General: Ending India’s caste-based exclusion is key to shared prosperity
Speaking at the Indian Council of World Affairs UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stressed the need for inclusive growth for shared prosperity saying that, “millions of Dalits, tribals and others still face discrimination, especially the women and girls.” On a visit to Gujarat the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, similarly cautioned that while India was an accelerating economy, “Indian society has an enduring exclusion that is based, among other things, on caste identities. This bias can impede shared prosperity, serving as a basis for discrimination in many spheres, including in employment and other markets, as well as in public services.”
Read the full article: http://idsn.org/world-bank-president-and-un-secretary-general-ending-indias-caste-based-exclusion-is-key-to-shar/.
Dalit women fight for their rights with marches and mass events in Nepal and India
Dalit women from Nepal, India and Bangladesh joined hands to assert their rights at a rally in Kathmandu, at the fringes of the people’s SAARC meeting. Hundreds of Dalit women from across Nepal gathered at the FEDO National Dalit Women conference, to put Dalit women’s rights on the agenda and In India several long marches and mass gatherings of Dalit women took place throughout November and December. “Herstory in the making as Dalit women from Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India join at People’s SAARC!” tweeted Thenmozhi Soundararajan, a Dalit woman from the US who had joined Dalit women from across South Asia for events to demand their rights at the fringes of the SAARC meeting in Nepal.
Read the full article: http://idsn.org/dalit-women-fight-for-their-rights-with-marches-and-mass-events-in-nepal-and-india/.
Vote for freedom from discrimination as a UN priority
The United Nations are running a global survey on to find out what priorities people have for a better world. Voters are asked to pick six priorities – one of the priorities you can choose is ‘Freedom from discrimination and persecution’. As discrimination is at the root of many of the other important priorities we encourage you to take part in the vote and vote for freedom from discrimination as one of the six. Discrimination is often overlooked in these surveys – where issues such as education, health, food often have more of an instant appeal. However as long as discrimination remains as a barrier to access – the change we want to see in terms of education, health food and other priorities will not materialise. It is also possible to write suggestions for additional priorities – here one could suggest ending caste-based discrimination. When you have voted a personalised video representing the things you voted for is presented that you can share if you like and you can also add your name and the top issue you wish to see taken up by the UN of the issues listed.
You can then share this video on Twitter and Facebook. Vote on http://vote.myworld2015.org/.
India slashes health budget, already one of the world's lowest
The Indian government has ordered a cut of nearly 20 percent in its 2014/15 healthcare budget due to fiscal strains, putting at risk key disease control initiatives in a country whose public spending on health is already among the lowest in the world.
Two Health Ministry officials told Reuters on Tuesday that more than 60 billion rupees, or $948 million, has been slashed from their budget allocation of around $5 billion for the financial year ending on March 31 ... India spends about 1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on public health, compared to 3 percent in China and 8.3 percent in the United States. ... The retrenchment could also derail an ambitious universal healthcare program that Modi wants to launch in April. The plan aims to provide all citizens with free drugs and diagnostic treatments, as well as insurance benefits. ... In addition to the healthcare budget, the finance ministry has also ordered a spending cut for India's HIV/AIDS program by about 30 percent to 13 billion rupees ($205.4 million).
Read the full Reuters article: http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/12/23/us-india-health-budget-idINKBN0K10XZ20141223.
IndiaNews - December 22, 2014
Caste at the root of India and Mauritania's position as top global slavery offenders
The Global Slavery Index 2014, released by the Walk Free Foundation, singles out India as the country in the world with the most slaves and sees caste at the root of slavery in India. Caste-affected Mauritania tops the Index on percentage of the population in slavery.
Caste-based slavery is present in several other countries topping the Index including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In fact, according to the data collected, more than half the world’s slaves (54%) are found in countries with caste-systems.
Read the full story by the International Dalit Solidarity Network: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/caste-at-the-root-of-india-and-mauritanias-position-as-top-global-slavery-offenders/128/.
New reports: Exclusion and untouchability remain widespread and only 5% marry out of their caste
Report findings recently released from the India Human Development Survey, the India Exclusion Report and the Nepal Multidimensional Social Inclusion Index, document that caste discrimination is very far from being history. In almost all aspects of every-day life statistics indicate that caste discrimination is deep-rooted and widespread. Merely five percent of Indians said they had married a person from a different caste, and 27 percent of households self-reported engaging in untouchability practices.
Read the full story by the International Dalit Solidarity Network: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/new-reports-exclusion-and-untouchability-remain-widespread-and-only-5-marry-out-of-their-caste/128/.
India Briefing SOAS on "economy, social violence and insecurity of livelihoods"
In the India Briefing for November 2014, the India Study Group, co-ordinated by the School of Oriental and African Studies (Universty of London), presents a second snapshot view of developments in India after the elections. They describe "how the problematic trends they identified in our last briefing (see https://www.indiastudygroup.org/india-briefings/2-september-s-general-briefing) continue to deepen, with respect to the economy, social violence and the insecurity of people's livelihoods. We also discuss India's recent foreign policy initiatives, and the possible violence and instability that may follow changes in the electoral landscape."
Read the November 2014 briefing here: https://www.indiastudygroup.org/india-briefings/6-india-briefing-november-2014.
Belgian stone importer: yes there is child labour in stone production, but I co-operate to fight it
A Belgian importer of natural stone from Rajasthan writes about his engagement in combating child labour in the stone quarries ánd the local communities where he is sourcing cobble stones. Managing director Bram Callewier from Beltrami writes: "In our showroom customers ask me sometimes if this [child labour] is also the case with natural stone from India. A tough question that unfortunately has an equally tough answer: yes, it is possible that the well-known Kandla setts [cobbles] are cut by children aged 10-15 years."
You can read the full blog here: http://www.indianet.nl/141201e.html.
Silicosis deaths in Rajasthan mines leave behind a trail of young widows
The Karauli-Dholpur-Bharatpur mining belt in eastern Rajasthan, which produces the country’s best quality red sandstone, also has the largest number of young widows, most of them below 40 years.
The older ones were widowed some decades ago, and worse, young girls almost see their future unfold before them. The common link: they were married to miners who died of silicosis caused by inhaling of silica dust during mining or polishing.
Unofficial estimates suggest there could be around 25,000 women in Karauli district alone who have been widowed as a result of silicosis.
Read the full story in The Hindu: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/where-dust-brings-death/article6649894.ece.
Publications on 'Sumangali' and related labour practices in the South Indian textile industry
Flawed Fabrics – a report by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) – was published in October 2014. It shows that workers are still facing appalling labour conditions that amount to forced labour in the export-oriented Southern Indian textile industry. The women and girls who work in the spinning mills of Tamil Nadu, some as young as 15, are mostly recruited from marginalised Dalit communities in impoverished rural areas.
There is now a range of reports, articles etc. showing the magnitude and severity of this issue.
You can find them on this page: http://www.indianet.nl/sumangali_e.html.
IndiaNews - November 26, 2014
Report on (child) slavery in Indian textile production leads to action
The report Flawed Fabrics of the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) and SOMO about child labour and 'modern slavery' in Indian spinning mills supplying to well-known garment brands clothing companies drew a lot of attention and led to various actions by companies, politicians and others. The media attention following the publication of the report was overwhelming. Read more about the responses of C&A, Primark and H&M and Social Accountability International (SAI). Dutch Minister Ploumen of Trade and Development Cooperation talked to Minister Maneka Gandhi of Women and Child Development in India. Questions were raised on the issue by members of both the Dutch and European Parliament. The latter want the European Commission to raise the issue with European textile companies, trade organisations, the members of the EU, the Indian government, the International Labour Organisation and the OECD, in order to undertake joint action.
Read the full article: http://www.indianet.nl/141119e.html.
Read the report Flawed Fabrics: http://www.indianet.nl/pb141028e.html.
Motion in Dutch Parliament adopted on child and bonded labour in textile production
After the annual debate on the budget of the Minister of Trade and Development Co-operation, in which the issue of child and bonded labour in spinning mills was repeatedly mentioned, the following motion was adopted:
"Requests the government to ensure that the Convenant [Agreement) with the textile/garment sector includes a credible and realistic plan that takes care that - ultimately in 2016 - garments produced with the worst forms of child labour are not sold anymore in The Netherlands."
India called out at UN General Assembly for blocking IDSN’s UN consultative status
At the UN General Assembly meeting on the 28th October, the UN Special Rapporteur on the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, criticised India for arbitrarily blocking the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) from obtaining UN consultative status calling it "clearly unacceptable, wrong and unfair".
Mr. Maina Kiai noted that reprisals are an area of the gravest concern and that states repeatedly target organisations, thus obstructing legitimate civil society participation. He highlighted the example of the politicized NGO Committee, which recommends UN consultative status to NGOs, deliberately and arbitrarily deferring the application of IDSN.
Read the full article: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/india-called-out-at-the-un-general-assembly-for-blocking-idsns-un-consultative-status/128/.
Have a look at the website http://www.dalits.nl/english.html
With the following recent articles and more:
- Lynching of boy underlines how the curse of caste still blights India
- UN agencies team up to focus on fighting caste discrimination
- Just 5% of Indian marriages are inter-caste
- Caste discrimination, child labour and the Nobel peace prize winner
- UN experts increase focus on caste discrimination
Also have a look at the special pages on Dalit women, Dalit children and Dalits & Business/Labour.
Briefings India Study Group of SOAS: Your guide to the new India
The India Study Group – consisting of independent professionals working in multiple fields, including law, journalism, academia, civil society, and the corporate world, coordinated by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London – have produced some interesting briefings on developments post-Modi. In the India Briefing of September 2014 issues like the Indian economy, livelihoods/employment, administration and government as well as ‘the saffron front’ are dealt with. In November a thematic briefing on ‘faster’ land acquisition and environmental clearances (‘may harm the economy’) was published.
See the website for these publications: https://www.indiastudygroup.org/.
Statement Stop Child Labour on Child Labour Free Zones
On 20 November the Stop Child Labour Coalition published a statement which includes the following: "SCL partner organisations around the world are yielding important results. In India, MV Foundation has brought more than a million children from work to school…. And organisations in Africa have been able to bring over 20,000 children from work into school over the last two years. These examples show that it is indeed possible to end child labour, if we all work together from the same principle that 'no child should work - every child should be in school'. Today, we celebrate the growing recognition for the area-based approach as an effective way to combat child labour. Recently for example in Uganda, Mali and Ghana members of parliament, Ministers and local authorities have embraced and promised to support the area-based approach towards child labour free zones."
Read the full statement: http://www.stopchildlabour.org/Stop-Childlabour/Newsletter/Newsletter-Nov-2014-English/A-childhood-for-all-children.
Muslims, Dalits and Tribals make up 53% of all prisoners in India
Muslims, Dalits and Adivasi — three of the most vulnerable sections of Indian society — make up more than half of India's prison population, according to an official report on prisons released this month. Although the proportion of these three communities in India adds up to about 39%, their share amongst prisoners is considerably higher at 53%. India had 420.000 people in prison in 2013.
Read the article (Times of India, Nov. 24, 2014): http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Muslims-dalits-and-tribals-make-up-53-of-all-prisoners-in-India/articleshow/45253329.cms.
IndiaNews - October 28, 2014
New Report: Modern day slavery in the Indian textile industry -
Efforts of clothing brands and retailers lack scale and conviction
Flawed Fabrics – a new report by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) – shows that workers are still facing appalling labour conditions that amount to forced labour in the export-oriented Southern Indian textile industry. The women and girls who work in the spinning mills of Tamil Nadu, some as young as 15, are mostly recruited from marginalised Dalit communities in impoverished rural areas. They are forced to work long hours for low wages. They live in very basic company-run hostels and are hardly ever allowed to leave the company compound. The researched spinning mills have Western companies and Bangladesh garment factories among their customers, including C&A, Mothercare, HanesBrands, Sainsbury's and Primark.
See full press release and report: http://www.indianet.nl/pb141028e.html.
IndiaNews - October 3, 2014
Vote for Jan Sahas as candidate for the Dutch Human Rights Tulip Award
The Indian non-governmental organization Jan Sahas, working to end caste-based discrimination, has been shortlisted for the Dutch Human Rights Tulip Award. Jan Sahas, based in Madhya Pradesh, has made invaluable contributions to the struggle for Dalit rights, in particular in campaigning to end manual scavenging.
Every year, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs awards the Human Rights Tulip to human rights defenders who promote and support human rights in innovative ways. Jan Sahas has been selected due to its work for the empowerment of the Dalit community and challenging caste-gender based oppression and total eradication of manual scavenging practice.
Public voting will be from 29th September until 10th October 2014 . The Dalit Network Netherlands and the International Dalit Solidarity Network encourage you to vote for Jan Sahas and spread the message in your networks. On Twitter and Facebook use #humanrightstulip.
To vote go to: http://www.humanrightstulip.nl/candidates-and-voting/jan-sahas.
URGENT APPEAL: Brutal Police torture of Dalit human rights defender
A 28 year old Dalit human rights defender, Mr. Poovarasan, was abducted from his house by five police officers in Tamil Nadu, and brutally tortured and abused using derogatory caste names. Following the abuse, the police filed false charges against him. Unable to walk, the victim was taken to court in an ambulance, and the Police inspector forced the ambulance with Mr. Poovarasan in it to drive off the court premises, while he threatened Mr. Poovarasan to remain silent about the assault. An urgent appeal has been launched to ensure proper medical treatment for the victim and consequences for the involved police officers.
The urgent appeal case details the brutal beatings that Mr. Poovarasan was subjected to and is a report of the entire incident including the intervention from advocates from the human rights organisation that Mr. Poovarasan worked for, Makkal Mandram, to ensure that the case was registered and medical exams undertaken. A model appeal to be filled out and adapted by organisations and individuals has been created.
Read the full story: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/urgent-appeal-brutal-police-torture-of-dalit-human-rights-defender-perpetrators-must-be-held-acco/128/.
For India's child police, work trumps school
Children as young as five are being required to work for the police force in central India despite prohibitions on child labour in the country's constitution. At least 300 "child police" work in police departments across Chhattisgarh state in what officials insist is a compassionate policy to provide an income for the families of officers killed on duty.
But human rights groups argue the practice is wrong, and other means of support must be found. Some relatives also say the kid cops are losing out on their childhood. "It's really inhumane to force children to go to an office to work instead of school," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The police department should look for other options. But such small children shouldn't be asked to come to the office."
See full story: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/09/india-child-police-work-trumps-school-201491192730703540.html.
Delhi's missing kids: 18 children disappear every day from India's capital
Eighteen children go missing in Delhi every day on average. Only a few are traced and restored to their parents. Shocked? Well, the national capital beats the national average easily when it comes to missing children. While 11 children disappear in the country every hour, two-third of them are traced. In Delhi, that's not quite the case.
"My son was playing outside the entrance gate of our house. I went inside for a few minutes to bring money to pay a food vendor. When I returned, I did not find my child there. The vendor too had disappeared," Laxmi, a resident of Sultanpuri told Firspost. More than a decade has elapsed since her son, less than two-years-old then, went missing. She has lost all hope of getting him back. The cops have given up too.
See full story: http://www.firstpost.com/india/delhis-missing-kids-18-children-disappear-every-day-from-indias-capital-1728299.html.
IndiaNews - July 18, 2014
India Exclusion Report 2013-14
From the website of the Centre for Equity Studies:
"The India Exclusion Report 2013-14 is envisioned as the first of a series of widely collaborative annual reports, involving numerous institutions and individuals working on the issues of disadvantaged and marginalised communities in India."
The report counts around 260 pages and has, besides a very comprehensive introductory chapter, section on school education, urban housing, labour markets, law and justice, budgets and planning, highly excluded groups (transgenders, bonded labourers, Musahars) and statistics.
The report can be found here: http://www.indianet.nl/IndiaExclusionReport.html.
Order a hard copy of the report here: http://centreforequitystudies.org/contact-us.
Work during holidays leads to bonded child labour in spinning mills
Recently more than 60 school children between 13 and 16 years of age were found working in spinning mill Shiva Mills in Dindigul District, Tamil Nadu. They were recruited by contractors to work during school holidays. But after the summer holiday the company forced them to stay by not paying their 2 months wages. Parents protested in vain.
The issue was subsequently taken up by a local union and NGO as well as by Unicef which led to action by the Inspector of Factories, the Education Ministry and the National Child Labour Programme. Also the local press took up the matter. 18 children were freed but it was discovered that the company had already send 75 children home without their salaries. Efforts are underway to claim their salaries.
For more information: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/ForcedChildLabour-ShivaMills.pdf.
Regional Level Conference for Textile Industry Affected Young Women Workers
See the report of the Conference which took place on the 17th of June 2014 in Erode, Tamil Nadu, and the demands of the workers: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/TPF-140617.pdf. Victims of the Camp Labour Scheme participated in the meeting.
Dutch Trade Minister wants to join hands with EU, ILO, OECD and Indian government to tackle bonded labour in the garment industry
Dutch Minister Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation has reacted extensively to question of parliamentarians of four political parties on ‘garment companies who give no insight in how they deal with bonded (child) labour in India’. The questions were triggered by the report Small Steps – Big Challenges of the India Committee of the Netherlands and Dutch trade union federation FNV Mondiaal.
See the parliamentary Q & A on the issue: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/kv140624e.pdf.
See report Small Steps – Big Challenges: http://www.indianet.nl/pb140404e.html.
Indian ánd global civil society under threat
On May 3, 2014, the Intelligence Bureau’s report on impact of NGOs on development was leaked to the press. The report has accused "foreign-funded" NGOs of "serving as tools for foreign policy interests of western governments" by sponsoring agitations against nuclear and coal-fired power plants and genetically modified organisms across the country.
There is a threat against civil society in many countries across the globe. A comprehensive report on the matter, including observations on India even ‘before Modi’ is: Closing Space: Democracy and Human Rights Support Under Fire.
See articles and report: http://www.indianet.nl/IndianCivilSocietyUnderThreat.html.
New report: The Price of Less Child Labour and Higher Wages
A new publication by the India Committee of the Netherlands - The Price of Less Child Labour and Higher Wages - shows that increasing the price that big seed companies in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh pay to farmers to grow cottonseed has resulted in much higher wages and less child labour in recent years.
From the report: "One of the important factors which has contributed to an increase in farm wages is the implementation since 2006 of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act… The interventions by the government, NGOs, UN agencies like UNICEF and some seed companies in recent years addressing the problem of child labour in cottonseed farms in Andhra Pradesh had a positive impact and reduced the availability of children for cottonseed work… The sharp increase in wages in 2010-11 and 2011-12, however, can be largely attributed to significant increase in the procurement prices paid to farmers by the seed companies… Despite increase wages are still below the legal minimum wages … the available data do suggest that the rise in wages had a positive impact on child labour…"
See the full report: http://www.indianet.nl/ThePriceOfLessChildLabourAndHigherWages.html.
UN Women Committee raises serious concern on Dalit women and lacking implementation of laws
In the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), review of India on 2nd July 2014, the issues of Dalit women and girls were brought up by several experts of the Committee and the Committee noted that Dalit women and the lack of implementation of laws were matters of serious concern.
The Indian delegation responded to the concerns raised by the Expert Committee by listing constitutional provisions, legislation and special legislation in place to deal with discrimination and violence against women, also Dalit women.
The Committee responded that while they are aware of the legislation, these laws are not implemented and called on India to address the inadequate implementation of the laws enacted.
See full article and reports:
Open Letter: A Call for Transparency in the ECOSOC NGO Accreditation Process
IDSN has joined other NGOs in sending an open letter to the ECOSOC members calling on them to take measures to stop the Committee on NGOs' members from blocking legitimate human rights organisations from gaining ECOSOC status.
See the Open Letter and background: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/open-letter-a-call-to-transparency-in-ecosoc-ngo-accreditation-process/128/.
IndiaNews - June 30, 2014
Indian civil society under threat
On May 3, 2014, the Intelligence Bureau’s report on impact of NGOs on development was leaked to the press. The report has accused "foreign-funded" NGOs of "serving as tools for foreign policy interests of western governments" by sponsoring agitations against nuclear and coal-fired power plants and genetically modified organisms across the country. The NGOs, said to be working through a network of local organizations such as Greenpeace, People’s Union for Civil Liberties and Narmada Bachao Andolan. The report is addressed to Prime Minister's Office. NGOs and activists have condemned the allegations.
See for more information (including the IB report) - to be updated regularly: http://www.indianet.nl/IndianCivilSocietyUnderThreat.html.
UN Rights Council: End Caste-Based Rape, Violence - Side Event Highlights Need for Concrete Action
(From: Joint IDSN & Human Rights Watch Press Release)
Senior UN human rights officials at a United Nations Human Rights Council side-event on June 17, 2014, called for immediate efforts to end caste-based rape and violence against women.
The event, co-sponsored by Human Rights Watch, followed urgent global calls for action from numerous human rights organizations, India’s UN representative, and policymakers from around the world in response to the gang-rape and hanging of two girls in India on May 27.
At the side-event, the speakers urged UN member countries to speak up about the escalating caste-based violence against women. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said: “I urge governments to fully implement all the recommendations made by international human rights mechanisms, as well as those arising from national processes. Our outrage is not enough. We must take real and focused action to mend our societies’ dramatic failure to support the rights of people of discriminated castes, particularly women and girls.”
See the press release: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/un-rights-council-end-caste-based-rape-violence/128/.
New brochure: Dalit women fight by IDSN
Dalit + Woman = Multiple Discrimination
"Dalit women are born into an ‘untouchable’ caste in an apartheid-like system designed to oppress them, deny them their rights and leave them with no choice but to obey the system. The severe discrimination they face from being both a Dalit and a woman, makes them a key target of violence and systematically denies them choices and freedoms in all spheres of life.
Their access to justice is negligible, forcing them to fight those who rape, rob, cheat or beat them, with no support from the systems of justice meant to protect them. The police refuse to take their complaint, the courts will not convict those who violate them and they are threatened, if they try to oppose them.
This is the reality Dalit women face. Still, Dalit women are fighting for their rights every day. They are asking the world to speak up when they are silenced, take action when they are shut down, and have the courage to demand that human rights and the rule of law apply, also when it is a Dalit woman... "
See the 16 page brochure: http://idsn.org/fileadmin/pdfs/Media/Dalit_Women_Fight.pdf.
Dutch Minister Foreign Affairs discusses Dalit (women’s) issue with Indian government
MPs from the Dutch political parties ChristianUnion, Socialist Party, GreenLeft, D66 and SGP urged the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Timmermans on June 11 to raise the issue of mostly unpunished violence against Dalit women with the Indian government, the UN Human Rights Council and the EU. Answering these questions, Minister Timmermans said:
"During the conversation with my Indian colleague at the Foreign Ministers Meeting in New Delhi on November 11, 2013, we talked extensively about the situation of Dalits. During recent consultations the gruesome incident in Uttar Pradesh was raised by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs" and "The Netherlands has raised the issue of the position of marginalized groups and multiple discrimination during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women."
The Dalit Network Netherlands however concludes: 'The approach to the topic of violence against Dalits and Dalit women remains extremely reluctant. The Netherlands did not - despite the horrible recent events and the fact that women are a priority in the Dutch human rights policy - want to give a 'political signal' by co-sponsoring the Side Event on violence against Dalit women and girls.'
See the questions and answers: http://www.dalits.nl/140611e.html
Dutch Trade Minister wants to join hands with EU, ILO en OECD to tackle bonded labour in the garment industry with Indian government
Dutch Minister Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation has reacted extensively to question of parliamentarians of four political parties on ‘garment companies who give no insight in how they deal with bonded (child) labour in India’. The questions were triggered by the report ‘Small Steps – Big Challenges’ of the India Committee of the Netherlands and FNV Mondiaal.
To the question if the Minister is willing to urge garment companies active in The Netherlands to participate in the working group ‘bonded labour’ in the framework of the Plan of Action of the Dutch textile and garment sector, she answers: "Yes. I am in consultation with the trade associations VGT, Modint and Inretail how we can join hands to increase the involvement of the members in the textile working groups." To a question if the Minister is willing to raise the issue bonded labour in Tamil Nadu’s garment industry with the relevant Indian authorities... and to contribute substantially to the solution of this structural, she answers: "Yes. I this I will join hands with the ILO, OECD and EU where this is possible and effective."
See the questions and answers: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/kv140624e.pdf.
Concluding observations by UN body on India’s child rights' policies and practices
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child considered India’s reports on 2 and 3 June 2014, and adopted, at its meeting on 13 June 2014, a large number of concluding observations in a 21 page report. A few highlights are:
- 'The Committee is concerned about the forced displacement of a high number of children and their families and the loss of their ancestral lands because of business operations. This particularly concerns children living in the area of the large scale Posco steel plant and port in the state of Odisha.' The Committee requests India i.a. to ‘require companies to undertake assessments, consultations, and full public disclosure of the environmental, health-related and human rights impacts of their business activities and their plans to address such impacts.'
- The Committee ... is concerned at the high drop-out rates of children, in particular children of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and girls. The Committee is also concerned about the high number of children that are out of school, high dropout rates at grade 5, low numeracy and literacy skills, low quality of education, as well as shortage of qualified teachers and classrooms.
- The Committee reiterates its serious concern that, despite some efforts made by the State party, there is still a large number of children involved in economic exploitation, including child labour in hazardous conditions, such as in bonded labour, mining, agriculture and as domestic servants, as well as in the informal sector sector, and recommends: 'expedite the adoption of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Bill, 2012 and develop a comprehensive strategy to prevent and eliminate all forms of child labour, including sanctions against individuals involved in child labour.'
See the full the report: http://www.indianet.nl/CRC_India_2014.html.
IndiaNews - June 11, 2014
Fighting Violence against Women – Interview with Manjula Pradeep, Dalit leader
Journalist Mari Thekaekara writes:
‘I have watched Manjula Pradeep grow from a novice, an inexperienced young girl in the early 90's into a confident, assured, gutsy Dalit leader over the last 20 years. In this interview, Manjula traces the history of her struggle for Dalit rights from her early induction into Navsarjan Trust, as a raw, young recruit and her tumultuous journey to her present post as head of Navsarjan, often representing Dalits in the UN and other national and international fora.’
Manjula Pradeep: "From '91 to '95, I watched different Dalit struggles and realised that Dalit women played an important role in the struggle for justice for their menfolk as well as for the entire community. My early inspiration came from a Dalit woman, Valiben. She fought ceaselessly for justice for her son who was arrested on a false charge of theft of a bicycle. He swore he bought it second hand. But the police tortured him and beat him mercilessly..."
See full interview: http://www.dalits.nl/140428e.html.
Sexual violence against Dalit women: MPs want action by Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs
The recent spate of media attention about sexual violence against Dalit women also triggered Dutch Members of Parliament. Parliamentarians of four parties are urging Minister of Foreign Affairs Timmermans of Foreign Affairs to raise the issue of unpunished sexual violence against Dalit women with the Indian government, the UN Human Rights Council and the European Union.
The MPs also referred to the brochure Dalit women without rights – Victims of Sexual Violence Claim their Rights (in Dutch) published by ICN and FNV Mondiaal and the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women in India and Bangladesh.
Minister Timmermans of Foreign Affairs promised more than a year ago to make efforts to put violence against (Dalit) women and the position of Dalits on the agenda of the UN and the EU. The MPs now want to know what the Minister has done and what he will do in the near future. They want the minister to play an active role in the topic this month in the UN Human Rights Council.
See the parliamentary questions here: http://www.dalits.nl/pdf/kv140606e.pdf.
Foreign-aided NGOs are ‘stalling development’ says IB report to Prime Minister Modi
The gloves seem to be off against human rights NGOs.
The India Express writes: "As a first step to fast-tracking development high on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has submitted a classified document identifying several foreign-funded non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are 'negatively impacting economic development'."
"A significant number of Indian NGOs (funded by some donors based in the US, the UK, Germany, The Netherlands and Scandinavian countries) have been noticed to be using people centric issues to create an environment which lends itself to stalling development projects," says the IB report marked to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
"The negative impact on GDP growth is assessed to be 2-3 per cent per annum," says the June 3 report...
Read the full article: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/foreign-aided-ngos-are-actively-stalling-development-ib-tells-pmo-in-a-report/.
Better prices for farmers: higher wages and less child labour
A new ICN publication – The Price of Less Child Labour and Higher Wages - shows that increasing the price that big seed companies in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh pay to farmers to grow cottonseed has in recent years resulted in much higher wages and less child labour.
Between 2010 and 2013, multinational and national companies paid almost 50% more to cottonseed farmers while farm workers' wages rose by over 85%. Between 2004 and 2013, wages increased by over 300% and the inflation rate was 100%. Despite the substantial wage increase daily wages (currently about € 1.65) are at present still 40% below the official minimum wage.
During the last few years the ICN published several reports on child labour, low wages (especially for women) and poor working conditions in the production of cotton seeds in India. Multinationals like Syngenta, Bayer and Monsanto, but also some Indian companies started acting to combat child labour. An ICN report from 2010 showed a reduction of 25% in children working in the cottonseed fields.
Read the new report: http://www.indianet.nl/ThePriceOfLessChildLabourAndHigherWages.html.
Earlier publications can be found here: http://www.indianet.nl/katoenz_e.html.
Dutch MPs want action of government on bonded (child) labour in India’s textile industry
Based on the paper Small Steps - Big Challenges of ICN and FNV Mondiaal as well as the FIDH report Behind the showroom parliamentary questions were raised by members of four political parties in The Netherlands to the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation on garment companies who provide no insight into their approach to bonded (child) labour in India. The MPs are also asking: "Are you willing to raise (the issue of) this large-scale and serious violation of children’s and human rights with the relevant Indian authorities, if possible to do this in the European and OECD context, as well as in cooperation with the ILO, and to contribute substantially to the solution of this
structural human rights issue in which Dutch companies are involved?"
See the full questions: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/kv140528e.pdf.
See the report Small Steps – Big Challenges: http://www.indianet.nl/pb140404e.html.
UN experts slam India’s child rights policies - UP Government too under fire
"India’s child rights policies came under sharp attack at a crucial meeting of UN experts on 2-3 June in Geneva. The UN Committee on Rights of Child had met to review the progress made under the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its two Optional Protocols in India. While India presented its initial reports under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Bernard Gastaud, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the report from India urged the delegation from India to change its vocabulary from ‘will do’ to ‘what you have done’."
Read the full press release by the NCDHR: http://www.dalits.nl/pdf/pb140604e.pdf.
IndiaNews - April 28, 2014
Report Human Rights Watch: 'They say we’re dirty': Marginalized – Dalits, Adivasi, Moslims - Children Denied Education
School authorities in India persistently discriminate against children from marginalized communities, denying them their right to education, Human Rights Watch said in a report released recently. Four years after an ambitious education law went into effect in India guaranteeing free schooling to every child ages 6 to 14, almost every child is enrolled, yet nearly half are likely to drop out before completing their elementary education.
The 77-page report, 'They Say We’re Dirty': Denying an Education to India’s Marginalized, documents discrimination by school authorities in four Indian states against Dalit, tribal, and Muslim children. The discrimination creates an unwelcome atmosphere that can lead to truancy and eventually may lead the child to stop going to school. Weak monitoring mechanisms fail to identify and track children who attend school irregularly, are at risk of dropping out, or have dropped out.
Read the full article and report: http://www.hrw.org/node/124740.
Reports of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women in India and Bangladesh
The reports contain the findings of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, on her visit to India from 22 April to 1 May 2013 and to Bangladesh from 20 to 29 May 2013. In the report, the Special Rapporteur examines violence against women in the country, including root causes and consequences, and the implications of such violence on the effective exercise of human rights by women. She also discusses the State’s responses and provides recommendations. A quote from the report on India:
"Dalit and Adivasi women and women from other scheduled castes and tribes and other 'backward classes' are frequent victims of multiple and intersecting forms of caste-based discrimination…. continues to be pervasive and widespread. The intergenerational nature of caste-based discrimination condemns women to a life of exclusion, marginalization and disadvantage in every sphere of life. Many of those women are denied an education and economic opportunities, and perform dangerous and unprotected work, including bonded labour (debt bondage) and manual scavenging, which are both widely regarded as forms of forced labour and modern forms of slavery."
Read the reports: http://www.dalits.nl/ViolenceAgainstWomenIndia&Bangladesh.html.
Child labour, long hours and low wages still rife in Turkish hazelnut production
Rampant child labour, long working hours and below minimum wages have been found during an independent investigation by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) of Nestlé’s hazelnut supply chain in Turkey. This investigation was done as part of the requirements of Nestlé’s affiliation to the FLA and the findings as well as the corrective action plan of Nestlé are on the website of FLA. A similar situation with regard to violations of labour rights can be expected in supply chains of other companies buying Turkish hazelnuts like Ferrero, Mondelez, Unilever and Ahold. However these companies seem to being doing less than Nestlé to improve the situation.
Read the article and report: http://www.stopchildlabour.org/Stop-Childlabour/News-Items/Child-labour-long-hours-and-low-wages-still-rife-in-Turkish-hazelnut-production.
Garment brands not transparent on tackling bonded labour in India
Most Dutch and international companies importing garments from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu refuse to be transparent about if and how they tackle bonded labour at their suppliers. An estimated 100,000 young children and teenage girls are victims of 'bonded labour' or 'modern slavery'. These girls - mostly Dalit ('outcaste') - live in hostels, with little freedom of movement, underpaid for long working-days and working under unhealthy conditions.
This is an important conclusion of the paper Small Steps, Big Challenges - Update on (tackling) exploitation of girls and young women in the garment supply chain of South India that FNV Mondiaal (international department of Dutch trade union confederation) and the India Committee of the Netherlands have just published. The report discusses the current situation in Tamil Nadu, the limited improvements after previous reports and the responses of 21 Dutch and international garment brands on the question of what they do to combat the abuses. It also discusses the activities of various joint initiatives by companies and other organisations.
Read the article and the report: http://www.indianet.nl/pb140404e.html.
IndiaNews - April 16, 2014
Child labour behind international cosmetics brands
The hammer hits the shimmering wall in the mines very accurate. The mineral that falls off in flakes is called mica, and it is used for glitter in
natural cosmetics. The hand that holds the hammer, belongs to the 7 year old Karulal Bansi. He works five days a week, 7-8 hours a day for 30 cents
an hour in one of the illegal mines in the north-eastern Indian state Jharkhand.
The 7-year old boy is one of estimated 5000 children, that extracts mica from illegal mining in the states Jharkhand and Bihar. Illegal mica,
which cosmetic companies cannot or will not deny, will end up in their products in the European market. Through several intermediaries, that buy mica from both legal and illegal mines in India, the mica is sold to exporters with international customers as L’Oreal and Estée Lauder.
In a new report from DanWatch, Who Suffers For Beauty – The child labour behind make-up’s glitter, 16 companies behind 20 cosmetic brands are
examined. Of them 12 cannot or will not disclose, where they buy the natural ingredient, mica, for their make-up. But research by DanWatch in
Jharkhand and Bihar shows strong ties between two of the region’s biggest buyers of mica and several of the world’s biggest makeup brands.
Read the report and see the footage on YouTube: http://www.indianet.nl/pb140319e.html.
Members of European Parliament raise exploitation in Indian textile and garment industry
Three members of the Greens in the European Parliament have raised questions in reaction to the report Small Steps, Big Challenges - Update on
(tackling) exploitation of girls and young women in the garment supply chain of South India that FNV Mondiaal (international department of Dutch
trade union confederation) and the India Committee of the Netherlands published on the 4th of April 2014.
This report shows that international, including Dutch, companies importing garments from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu refuse to be
transparent about if and how they tackle bonded (child) labour at their suppliers. An estimated 100,000 young children and teenage girls are victims of 'bonded labour' or 'modern slavery'. These girls - mostly Dalit ('outcaste') - live in hostels, with little freedom of movement, underpaid for long working-days and working under unhealthy conditions.
See the questions of the three MEPs: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/ep140415e.pdf.
Read more about the issue, including the paper: http://www.indianet.nl/pb140404e.html.
Factsheet – Child Labour in the textile and garment industry
This factsheet is about child labour in the global textile and garment supply chain, particularly in Asia. Children are being put to work at
all stages of the supply chain – from the production of cotton seed, cotton harvesting and yarn spinning mills to all the phases in the
cut-make-trim stage. As well as working in fields, children are also working in large formal factories and in small informal factories, as well as in
sub-contracted workshops and in their own homes. Young children are working in the high tech spinning mills, in the power loom industry, as well as
weaving on hand looms.
Among the cases in the factsheet are child labour in Indian cotton seed production and spinning mills for which publications of ICN and SOMO
have been used. The factsheet also gives recommendations on what buying companies can do.
Read the Factsheet:
Dalit women ignite the audience at the Women in The World Summit in New York
“Even if no one else recognizes us as human, we will shout it from the rooftops … The shame is not on the women, the shame is on India,” said
US Dalit woman filmmaker Thenmozhi Soundararajan in the talk she gave together with Asha Kowtal from AIDMAM, at the high profile Women in The World
Summit in New York. Uma Thurman introduced the talk by playing the part of a Dalit woman rape victim and NBC anchor Cynthia McFadden moderated the discussion. Video clips filmed by Thenmozhi Soundararajan from the Dalit women’s march in India introduced the talk followed by a reading of a the Dalit woman rape victim Manisha’s story by actress Uma Thurman.
Read the article: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/dalit-women-ignite-the-audience-at-the-women-in-the-world-summit-in-new-york/128/.
A landmark judgment in the fight to eradicate manual scavenging
The Indian Supreme Court has ruled that the continuance of manual scavenging in the country is in blatant violation of Article 17 of the Constitution
of India by which, “untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden”. The court was emphatic about the duty cast on all states and union territories “to fully implement the law and to take action against the violators”.
Read the article:
See for more articles on Dalit issues: http://www.idsn.org/.
IndiaNews - April 15, 2014
Small Steps - Big Challenges in Tamil Nadu's textile industry: Garment brands not transparent on tackling bonded labour in India
Most Dutch and international companies importing garments from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu refuse to be transparent about if and how
they tackle bonded (child) labour at their suppliers. An estimated 100,000 young children and teenage girls are victims of 'bonded labour' or 'modern
slavery'. These girls - mostly Dalit ('outcaste') - live in hostels, with little freedom of movement, underpaid for long working-days and working
under unhealthy conditions.
This is an important conclusion of the paper Small Steps, Big Challenges - Update on (tackling) exploitation of girls and young women in the
garment supply chain of South India that FNV Mondiaal (international department of Dutch trade union confederation) and the India Committee of the Netherlands have just published. The report discusses the current situation in Tamil Nadu, the limited improvements after previous reports and the responses of 21 Dutch and international garment brands on the question of what they do to combat the abuses. It also discusses the activities of various joint initiatives by companies and other organisations.
See the full article and the report: http://www.indianet.nl/pb140404e.html.
IndiaNews - March 18, 2014
Annual Report International Dalit Solidarity Network 2013
The International Dalit Solidarity Network has just published its annual report 2013. Some of the highlights are:
· Seven UN experts issue a powerful media statement against caste discrimination and ‘untouchability’
· UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, issues several strong statements on caste discrimination
· UN side event on Dalit women is co-sponsored by five UN member states
· Caste discrimination is recognized as a source of inequality in the global discussion on the post-2015 development agenda
· UN/OHCHR hosts a South Asia regional consultation on caste-based discrimination
· The European Parliament adopts a resolution on caste discrimination
· IDSN releases the report ‘Equality in aid’ on addressing caste discrimination in humanitarian response
· The Indian Parliament passes a new bill against manual scavenging
· Twelve-day campaign against caste discrimination by Dalit civil society groups in Nepal
· The United Kingdom bans caste discrimination, but implementation of the law is delayed
See the full report, including the report of the Dalit Network Netherlands: http://www.dalits.nl/dnn_idsn_e.html.
The Lost Boys in Meghalaya’s ‘rat hole mines’
Al Jazeera has explored the plight of thousands of children working in the dangerous coal mines of India’s Meghalaya state.
Karma,16, has worked as a miner for over a year in India's North-Eastern state of Meghalaya, crawling deep inside a 'rat-hole' tunnel to dig coal for seven hours a day. "Inside it is very unstable. The smell is awful," he said sitting on a pile of coal. "It is so dirty, and it is difficult to move. You breathe in the coal and the dust. People get sick like this. There is no water to drink and it is so muddy."
Child rights activists have reported that there are thousands of children like Karma working in Meghalaya's coal pits, because only those who are small in size are able fit in the claustrophobic tunnels. Many of them, like Karma, are believed to be from neighbouring Indian states, or from nearby Nepal and Bangladesh.
Read the full article and see the shocking documentary: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/101east/2014/02/lost-boys-2014219887251994.html.
‘Shoe company association works on policy against child labour’ -
Answer Dutch Minister Ploumen of Trade and Development on parliamentary questions
The Association for Large Retailers (ALR) in shoes is working on ‘a sector-wide ambition in the field of CSR, including the eradication of child labour’. That is one of the answers of Minister Ploumen on parliamentary questions on the report Working on the Right Shoes of the Stop Child Labour campaign. Minister Ploumen also informs the parliament that this ambition will be ready by summer, 'after which the ALRS will start implementing this’.
As a result of the parliamentary questions the Minister of Trade and Development has also had a meeting with the company Schoenenreus which received a negative score in the report. Schoenenreus promised the Minister to make their CSR policy more transparent. The Minister also requested Schoenenreus to inform her about progress made. The Ministry also met shoe company Wolky that has not given any reaction to the repeated requests of Stop Child Labour for more information on their policies and practices against child labour in their supply chain.
See the full questions and answers: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/kv140303e.pdf.
See the report Working on the Right Shoes: http://www.indianet.nl/WorkingOnTheRightShoes.html.
With Pakistan’s Hindu Dalits facing increasing violence, a need for reform
Long accustomed to discrimination, Pakistani Hindu Dalits in the Sindh Province of Pakistan, located in the southern part of the country, are fighting discrimination on two fronts due to their status as non-Muslims in a Muslim state and their low caste standing. Dalits have also been traditionally regarded as “untouchable” in the Hindu religion.
A recent incident involving the violent exhumation of a Dalit from a Muslim graveyard underscores the discrimination that Dalits face in Pakistan.
Read the full article in The Atlantic Post: http://www.theatlanticpost.com/culture/pakistani-hindu-dalits-6483.html.
Drought in Pakistan kills over 100 children - many are Dalits
Urgent and sustainable relief is needed for Dalits residing in the Thar desert who are repeatedly struck by drought. Over 100 children have died in this last drought and the Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network have issued a press release calling for action to address the cause of these humanitarian catastrophes in Thar and find sustainable solutions to protect Dalits from droughts in future.
See the press Release from the Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network:
When a Dalit family approaches the police
The oppression of the Dalit community, and especially its women, by upper caste society is still widely prevalent in Rasulpura village of Rajasthan’s Ajmer district. Shirish Khare visits the village to find that the agents of law are often equally discriminatory.
"As soon as I got off at Ajmer railway station, I called Bhanvaribai’s mobile phone. In an unsure voice she said, 'Since you have come to write about women’s issues, why don’t you come directly to the Ajmeri Gate police station?' Somewhat astonished, I asked her what had happened. She replied, 'Come here and you will find out. We are all 50-year-old women here. You are a young man. They slapped us a few times and sat us down at the police station. So come only if you feel comfortable.'"
Read the full article: http://indiatogether.org/dalit-oppression-by-police-society.
IndiaNews - February 21, 2014
Tainted Carpets: Slavery and Child Labor in India’s Hand-Made Carpet Sector
End of January Harvard University’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights released a report on a first-hand investigation into slavery and child labour in the hand-made carpet sector of India. The report – Tainted Carpets: Slavery and Child Labor in India’s Hand-Made Carpet Sector – explores nine states in northern India and 172 different carpet exporters. The report includes a list of US importers. Key findings of the report contradict claims that slavery and child labour have been eliminated from the sector, and include the following:
* 3,215 cases of forced labour under Indian law, with an estimated industry prevalence of 45%;
* 2,010 cases of bonded labour, with an estimated industry prevalence of 28%;
* 1,406 cases of child labour, with an estimated industry prevalence of 20%;
* 286 cases of human trafficking, with an estimated industry prevalence of 4%.
The report elicited parliamentary questions in both the European as well as the Dutch Parliament. Also certification organisations active in the carpet sector - like GoodWeave and SA 8000 - have reacted to the report.
See the report and other documents here: http://www.indianet.nl/ka-carpets.html.
Report on 2013 of European Parliament on Freedom of Religion or Belief in the world: India en Pakistan among 15 ‘serious violators’
In February 2014 the European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief (EPWG) published its 2013 report with conclusions and recommendations.
The report describes the situation with regard to (lack of) freedom of religion or belief worldwide. It focusses in particular on 15 countries which are termed ‘serious violators’ of these internationally recognized rights. Two of these 15 are India and Pakistan. In addition the report provides recommendations to the institutions of the European Union to more effectively promote and protects the freedom of religion and belief. It includes specific country recommendations, including on Pakistan and India.
Read the full report: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/EPWG-2013-Report-Final.pdf.
More than 500 Indian workers have died in Qatar since 2012, figures show
‘More than 500 Indian migrant workers have died in Qatar since January 2012, revealing for the first time the shocking scale of death toll among those building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup. Official figures confirmed by the Indian embassy in Doha reveal that 237 Indians working in Qatar died in 2012 and 241 in 2013. A further 24 Indians have died in January 2014. These come after The Guardian revealed last month that 185 Nepalese workers had died in Qatar in 2013, taking the total from that country to at least 382 over two years. Human rights groups and politicians said the figures meant Fifa could not "look the other way", and should be leading demands for Qatar to improve conditions for the estimated 1.2 million migrant workers fuelling a huge construction boom.’
See these two articles in The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/24/qatar-2022-world-cup-185-nepalese-workers-died-2013 and
See also the ITUC site about the World Cup in Qatar: http://www.rerunthevote.org/?lang=en.
Watch the video on Child Labour Free Zones in India and Africa
A Child Labour Free Zone (CLFZ) is a place where no child labour exists and where all children go to school. This could be a village or a plantation. In a child labour free zone everyone is convinced that children belong in school and not in the workplace. A community cooperates to completely eliminate child labour and get all children into school. CLFZs where successfully pioneered in India but are now also gaining ground in various African countries. Promoting and supporting CLFZs is the main focus of the Stop Child Labour coalition (http://www.stopchildlabour.org).
Watch their video on Child Labour Free Zones:
IDSN Newsletter - January/February 2014
This newsletter includes the following articles:
- Aid institutions in Delhi gather to launch Equality in Aid report
- African Americans Declare Empathy with Dalits at US Congress Event
- South Asian Parliamentarians join to fight caste discrimination
- UNICEF: Dalit girls in India most excluded from primary education
- Petition to end atrocities against Dalit Women
- Pakistan: Dalit appointed a key advisor on minorities
- Caste a major challenge says report on the child friendliness of Governments in South Asia
And much more. See: http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=f163ce279b014a73495809891&id=9e5e870ed2.
IndiaNews - December 19, 2013
Arrest of 15 Dalit and Adivasi activists protesting against the government's broken promises
Dalit and Adivasi activists protested in front of the Indian Parliament Tuesday, to convey their anger that India's ruling parties have broken their promise to table important budget bills, meant to benefit Dalits and Adivasi and amendments to the act meant to prevent atrocities against Dalits and Adivasi.
Protesters chanted "Enough is enough, don't betray us, we will no longer remain silent", and made speeches on the importance of the bills.
Read the full article: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/arrest-of-15-dalit-and-adivasi-activists-protesting-against-the-governments-broken-promises/128/.
We are not untouchable
If you haven’t seen it yet you should certainly watch IDSN’s powerful introductory film on caste discrimination: We are not untouchable - End Caste Discrimination Now! (12 minutes).
The video describes human rights violations against Dalits, the so-called 'untouchables' at the bottom of the caste system. It has been produced by the International Dalit Solidarity Network.
Find it here: http://idsn.org/news-resources/video/we-are-not-untouchable/.
Dutch/international textile and garment companies under pressure to implement labour rights
During the last few years the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) and SOMO published a number of reports and papers on child and bonded labour – mostly of Dalit girls and young women - in the South Indian garment industry. This resulted in a lot of media attention as well as action by companies and political actors. See a compilation – as well as other publications on this issue here: http://www.indianet.nl/sumangali_e.html.
One of the results was a motion of April 2012 in Dutch parliament demanding full supply chain transparency and eradication of child labour: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/m120425e.pdf. After the disastrous collapse of the factory in Bangladesh the pressure on garment companies to act increased. Dutch Minister on Trade and Development Cooperation Mrs. Ploumen requested the trade sector organizations to develop a Plan of Action to tackle a range of labour and environmental issues in their supply chain. This Plan of Action was published in June 2013 with involvement of Dutch civil society, including ICN, though the NGOs felt it the result was not concrete enough. Talks continue on the implementation of the Plan of Action. In a new move the Dutch Parliament this December adopted a new resolution which provides more precise parameters for a compact between the Dutch government and the textile sector. These include "a concrete roadmap with measurable targets for implantation of the ILO labour standards, living wages, procurement practices, active participation of members of the trade associations, supply chain transparency and an annual progress report."
Plan of Action and the new resolution can be found here: http://www.indianet.nl/m131128e.html.
Planning to buy new shoes? Then first read the report Working on the Right Shoes: Shoe companies start tackling child labour and labour rights abuses or look at the scorecard
"More than half of the shoe companies have taken significant steps to fight child labour, but there are laggards." This is the conclusion of the Stop Child Labour (SCL) report Working on the Right Shoes which examined 28 Dutch and international footwear companies. The enclosed scorecard explains why Schoenenreus (ShoeGiant), Gabor, Lotto Sports, Wolky and Marks & Spencer score poorly. So have a look at the report and the scorecard before buying your new shoes: http://www.indianet.nl/pb131202e.html.
IDSN Newsletter – November 2013
In this newsletter includes the following articles:
- UN Human Rights Chief: Bring down beast of caste discrimination
- Global Slavery Index: Caste a major factor
- Dalits and women suffer harsh impact of Nepal elections
- Campaign to stop Government shortchanging Dalits
- Dalit speaks at UN Minority Forum
- UN expert: Too many Dalits live in Poverty
- CEDAW: Dalit woen at risk of violence
- New Manual Scavenging Legislation: New Hope and New Challenges
And more. See: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=f163ce279b014a73495809891&id=c3753eeef3&e=364e978446.
Members of European Parliament back binding environmental and social reporting requirements for large companies - 17 December 2013, by European Coalition for Corporate Justice
A key committee of the European Parliament has today voted in favour of mandatory environmental and social reporting for large companies in a move welcomed by the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ).
The Legal Affairs Committee significantly strengthened the proposals put forward by the European Commission. The position raises the prospect of a heated stand-off with member states as some national governments are seeking to water down the Commission’s proposals.
According to the proposals backed by the Legal Affairs Committee, all large European companies will be required to disclose information in their annual report regarding their impacts on the environment and on human rights throughout their supply chains. The Parliament will now enter into negotiations with the Commission and Council on the future of the non-financial reporting reform.
See the full article: http://www.corporatejustice.org/Press-release-MEPs-back-binding.html?lang=en.
IndiaNews - December 2, 2013
New report Working on the Right Shoes: Shoe companies start tackling child labour and labour rights abuses
"More than half of the shoe companies have taken significant steps to fight child labour, but there are laggards." This is the conclusion of the Stop Child Labour (SCL) report Working on the Right Shoes which examined 28 Dutch and international footwear companies. The enclosed scorecard explains why Schoenenreus (ShoeGiant), Gabor, Lotto Sports, Wolky and Marks & Spencer score poorly.
SCL has again, like in 2012, approached companies asking them about their policy and practices to combat child labour and labour rights abuses in their full supply chain. They also assessed transparency towards consumers and SCL’s researchers. Based on 15 criteria, the final assessment was good, medium or poor. The report is a follow-op of a report on the same topic published in December 2012. Seventeen companies out of a total of 28 received a total score ‘good’, seven more than a year ago. Among these "good" scoring companies are well-known brands as…
Read the press release, report and scorecard: http://www.indianet.nl/pb131202e.html.
"I Tried to See Where My T-Shirt Was Made, and the Factory Sent Thugs After Me After meeting India's ‘sumangali girls’: I'll never look at cute, cheap clothes the same way again"
This is the heading of a long investigative article (29-11-13) in the magazine Mother Jones on the girls making T-shirts for the whole world. A quote:
"When Aruna arrived at the factory, about 40 miles from her home, she found a vast facility where close to 1,000 girls, many in their teens, lived 10 or 15 to a room. From 8 a.m. till 10 p.m. every day, including weekends, she fed and monitored rusty machines that spun raw cotton into yarn. Her bosses often woke her in the middle of the night because, she recalls, there was 'always some sort of work, 24 hours a day'. Aruna made just a quarter of the $105 a month she was promised, about $0.84 a day." and "Aruna, 19, recalls that her bosses at the mill “said that we would get less work if we slept with them."
The article, which refers to the research report by SOMO and the India Committee of the Netherlands, also says: "Workers themselves hardly ever report abuse, in part because they come from the lower castes, including the Dalits, or untouchables. People don’t take up these issues with factory management because they are afraid of losing income and afraid of possible retaliation because they are in a vulnerable position in society’."
Read the article: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/11/india-garment-factories-sumangali.
Bonded Labour in South Asia’s textile industry: findings from the South Indian powerloom sector
Bonded labour is not only thriving in the South Indian spinning mills (see above), but also in workshops that produce woven cloth. A new policy briefing on the issue of ‘bonded labour’ by Dr Geert De Neve (Anthropology) and Dr Grace Carswell (Geography) from the University of Sussex has recently been published in the Global Insights policy briefing series.
Some of the key-findings are:
* The diversity of forms of bonded labour within supply chains is currently not acknowledged by corporate and state actors whose CSR/supply chain interventions rarely extend beyond first tier suppliers such as exporters and CMT (Cutting-Making-Trimming) companies.
* Bonded labour is persistent in rural small-scale industries, such as the powerloom workshops in Tamil Nadu that produce woven cloth for both domestic manufacturers and global suppliers.
* In Tamil Nadu, bonded labour takes the form of debt bondage in which rural powerloom labourers are tied to the owners of workshops through the payment of cash advances.
* In powerloom workshops, the bonded labour force is largely made up of the rural poor, including members of Dalit groups and other poor communities; it involves both men and women, and both local villagers and migrant workers; employers are almost exclusively high caste landowners and industrialists.
Read the full briefing: https://www.sussex.ac.uk/webteam/gateway/file.php?name=bonded-labour-in-south-asias-textile-industry.pdf&site=11.
UN Human Rights Chief: "Bring down the beast of caste discrimination"
UN High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, recently delivered a powerful speech on the urgent need to wipe out the "insidious stain" of caste discrimination and urges the UK not to tarnish their excellent record on human rights, by delaying implementation of UK anti-caste discrimination legislation.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stated that caste discrimination spells, "a life of humiliation, exclusion and poverty for about one-quarter of a billion women, men and children worldwide," and that it is “destructive of all we stand for," in a speech at a House of Lords meeting of anti-caste discrimination networks.
Pillay urged the global community to push hard to raise more awareness of the “catastrophic human impact of caste-based discrimination, especially on women and the young," and to "continue together to call for further progress and denounce caste-based discrimination, both at home and in multilateral and bilateral contexts on the international stage."
Read the full article and Pillay’s speech: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/un-human-rights-chief-bring-down-the-beast-of-caste-discrimination/128/.
IndiaNews - October 28, 2013
Global Slavery Index: Caste a major factor
Caste systems are present in four out of five countries ranked the worst slavery offenders, in the Global Slavery Index 2013. India alone accounts for half of the people on the planet regarded as ’modern slaves’.
The pioneering Index, just released by the Walk Free Foundation, cites caste and tribe systems as main factors influencing the prevalence of modern slavery in India, singling out Dalits and Adivasi as the most vulnerable. The Index also reports caste-based slavery in Pakistan, Nepal and Mauritania.
Read more: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/global-slavery-index-caste-a-major-factor/128/.
European Parliament: The EU must fight caste discrimination
The elected representatives of half a billion Europeans from 28 countries in the European Parliament (EP) recently adopted a strongly worded resolution on caste discrimination. It thereby has sent a strong message of support to hundreds of millions of people all over the world who are subjected to caste discrimination by urging the EU to step up efforts to address a human rights issue that causes almost unimaginable suffering.
Prior to adopting a resolution on caste discrimination, MEPs from a wide cross-section of political groups spoke passionately about the topic and condemned this form of discrimination in very strong terms. Some even argued that goods from caste-affected countries should be boycotted, and there was broad agreement that EU institutions are not doing enough to address the issue.
Read the full article and resolution: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/ep-the-eu-must-fight-caste-discrimination/128/.
Norwegian pension fund withdraws investment in Indian seed company because of child labour
The Norwegian Ministry of Finance has recently decided to withdraw its investment in the Indian company Zuari Agro Chemicals (‘Zuari’) because of the contribution of the company to the worst forms of child labour. This decision was taken based on a recommendation from the Council on Ethics of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG).
On the average, 20 to 30% of the workers at the farmers supplying seeds to Zuari are children under 15 years. A rough estimation indicates that about 3,000 to 4,000 children are involved in the company’s seed production: 20% of them is even younger than 10 years of age. The decision of the Norwegian Ministry of Finance has been taken after various unsuccessful efforts to get a credible response from Zuari on how they are tackling child labour in their supply chain.
Read more: http://www.indianet.nl/NorwegianPensionFund.html.
IDSN report: Disasters hit Dalits harder
A new report – Equality in Aid - reveals that Dalits are particularly vulnerable to disasters before and after they strike. Consequently, humanitarian actors must pay particular attention to their situation when preparing for and responding to emergencies.
Disasters do not affect everyone equally. A Dalit family that is confined to live on the outskirts of a village in poor quality housing, and with little protection against natural hazards, is particularly exposed to them. When disaster strikes and humanitarian aid is distributed, the same family will probably suffer further discrimination because of its status at the bottom of the caste hierarchy.
Consequently, providers of humanitarian assistance must pay particular attention to the situation of Dalits and other groups suffering from caste discrimination. This is the conclusion of a new IDSN report that gives an overview of the precarious situation of Dalits before, during and after humanitarian emergencies.
Read more, including the report:
Child Labour Free Zones also get support from Latin America
During the World Conference Against Child Labour in Brazil the Child Labour Free Zones which originated in India, are now spreading in Africa and catching on in Central America, have made some name for itself.
Just before the conference the Declaration has been approved unanimously at the Regional Conference on Child Labour Free Zones in Managua, Nicaragua that was organized by Stop Child Labour and local organizations. The Declaration was approved by delegates from Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, representatives of NGOs, trade unions, governments, international organizations and private sector. They are ‘next in line’ after the representatives of 18 African countries and a number of other countries and international organizations supported the Kampala Declaration (Uganda) in April 2013.
The Dutch Minister of Trade and Development Cooperation Mrs. Ploumen praised the area-based approach in combating child labour, working towards Child Labour Free Zones. She concluded by saying: "The sad thing, however, is that this best practice is called a child-labour-free zone. We need to make this term obsolete. What we need is a child-labour-free world."
- The Brasilia Declaration: http://childlabour2013.org/the-brasilia-declaration-on-child-labour/
- The speech by Dutch Minister Ploumen during the Global Conference: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/SpeechPloumenGlobalConferenceOnChildLabourInBrasilia.pdf
- The Kampala Declaration & more: http://www.indianet.nl/clfz_e.html.
IndiaNews - September 29, 2013
ILO figures on global decline child labour probably underestimate problem - Urgent need to address all forms of child labour remains
The International Labour Organization (ILO) recently published the report Marking progress against child labour. The ILO estimates the number of working children to be 168 million in 2012 versus 245 million in 2000 and 215 million in 2008. Half of the 168 million children do hazardous work, less than half of what it was in 2000. Most of the children work in agriculture and in the services sector and nearly half of all child labourers are under 12.
The campaign Stop Child Labour welcomes this apparent decline in child labour, especially in Asia. But the report itself and our own experiences do prompt us to be careful with the conclusions, also on the numbers mentioned. And of course, 168 million child labourers are still 168 million too much.
See the full reaction of Stop Child Labour to the report here: http://www.indianet.nl/130925e.html.
Dutch Minister Ploumen: Eradicate child labour and low wages in Indian seed sector 'as soon as
possible' - ICN report leads to action by companies and trade association
The Dutch government wants child labour and low wages in the seed production in India "to be eliminated as soon as possible". That is what Dutch
Minister Ploumen of Trade and Development Co-operation answered in response to parliamentary questions from Members of Parliament ChristianUnion, Party for the Animals, Socialist Party and 50Plus.
She made an agreement on that with the Dutch seed companies Bejo Seeds and Nunhems, as well as with trade association Plantum. The India Committee
of the Netherlands and the Stop Child Labour campaign welcome this agreement.
See the press release and full answers by the Minister: http://www.indianet.nl/pb130813e.html.
Committee European Parliament approves caste resolution
In October the European Parliament will express serious concern about caste discrimination and urge the EU to take action on this serious human
The elected representatives of half a billion Europeans in 28 countries consider caste discrimination an important human rights issue that
warrants serious and coordinated action by the EU system. On 9 October, they will call on the EU to step up efforts to eliminate this form of
discrimination. This became clear on 17 September when the European Parliament's Committee on Development (DEVE) unanimously approved a draft resolution on caste discrimination.
Read the full article and draft resolution: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/ep-committee-approves-caste-resolution/128/.
India passes bill on manual scavenging
A long awaited bill prohibiting manual scavenging was passed by the Indian parliament on 7 September. But two leading campaign organisations say
that much needs to be done before the total eradication of this inhuman practice is achieved. "It is just a first step." "A lot is still left to be
These sentences sum up the reaction of two leading Indian organisations struggling against manual scavenging to the adoption of a new bill on
this inhuman practice.
Read the article and more about the Bill: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/indian-parliament-passes-anti-scavenging-bill/128/.
Read much more on caste-based discrimination and Dalits here: http://www.dalits.nl/english.html.
IndiaNews - July 29, 2013
Parliamentary questions about child labour and ‘hunger wages’ of Indian seed workers
Members of Dutch Parliament of four different parties have raised questions on the government’s response to the publication of the report A Tale of Two companies of the India Committee of the Netherlands and the campaign Stop Child Labour – School is the best place to work. They want to know from the Minister of Trade and Development Co-operation Mrs. Ploumen if and how she is going to address the Dutch vegetable seed companies Bejo Zaden and Numhems about child labour and below minimum wages being paid by farmers supplying to their Indian subsidiaries Bejo Sheetal and Nunhems India. Especially women are heavily underpaid. The Members of Parliament also want to know if the Minister will bring up this issue with the Indian authorities during her visit to India in September, in view of looking for a joint solution.
You can find the report A Tale of Two Companies and the full set of questions here: http://www.indianet.nl/130629e.html.
Have a look at www.dalits.nl (also in English) with many new articles
- Dalit women raise their voices in the UN>BR>
- Appeal by human rights organizations: Take action to improve conditions for Dalit women
- Official Dalit population India exceeds 200 million (but could exceed 300 million)
- MEPs questions EU policy on caste issue
- Steel project in Orissa threatens thousands of Dalits
- Yemen’s Al-Akhdam face brutal caste oppression
- Dutch Parliament wants action for (Dalit) women and human rights in India
Calling for Corporate Accountability: A Guide to the 2011 OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are a unique, government-backed international corporate accountability mechanism aimed at encouraging responsible business behaviour around the world. They define standards for socially and environmentally responsible corporate conduct and proscribe procedures for resolving disputes between corporations and the communities or individuals negatively affected by corporate activities.
The dispute resolution mechanism which is a key feature of the OECD Guidelines is an instrument that stakeholders can use to address harmful corporate practices that have affected them and to seek remedy. This OECD Watch Guide to the Guidelines is designed to help individuals, communities, NGOs and trade unions to address the alleged misconduct through filing an OECD Guidelines complaint.
Find the publication here: http://oecdwatch.org/publications-en/Publication_3962.
Manual Scavenging – Death in the Gutter
Manual scavenging continues to be a ‘national shame’ according to the Indian magazine Frontline. The article ‘Death in the Gutter’ goes deeper into the issue after a recent ‘incident’ when two Dalits died of asphyxiation while cleaning a sewage tank in a private hotel in Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Also this month three sewage workers died in the sewers of New Delhi according to the national newspaper The Hindu.
These and other articles on this issue and the struggle in India against it can be found here: http://www.dalits.nl/manualscavenging.html.
Freedom of expression and right to privacy in India threatened
ICN has collected a number of articles – mainly from the Indian press – on the new rules regarding the content of websites and the surveillance of Indian citizens by the state. You can find them here: http://www.indianet.nl/internet.html.
IndiaNews - July 8, 2013
Two Dutch vegetable seed companies in India compared: Large-scale child labour at Bejo Sheetal - Nunhems close to child labour free
* Combating child labour: active involvement makes the difference
* Hazardous child labour of teenagers still continuing
* Women and girls - 80% of the workforce - heavily underpaid
* Dalits are often scolded and humiliated
* Reprint report: No Child Labour - Better Wages
The Indian company Bejo Sheetal, joint venture partner of Bejo Seeds from The Netherlands, tolerates widespread child labour at the farmers supplying seeds to them. The farmers supplying seeds to Nunhems India - part of
Nunhems Netherlands - almost work without using child labourers younger than 14. This is the main conclusion from the report A Tale of Two Companies - The difference between action and inaction in combating child labour published by the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) and the campaign Stop Child Labour - School is the best place to work.
Read more: http://www.indianet.nl/130629e.html.
Dalit women raise their voices in the UN
Nine Dalit women activists from South Asia attended the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Members of the group spoke at a side event on Dalit women on 4 June, and they appealed to UN member states to address their situation.
"When I started campaigning for Dalit rights 20 years ago, I never thought that I would be speaking at the UN." This was, however, exactly what Manjula Pradeep, a seasoned campaigner for Dalit human rights from India, did on
Tuesday 4 June as she addressed a UN side event focusing on caste- and gender-based discrimination and violence. The event included strong statements from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special
Rapporteur on violence against women.
Read more: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/dalit-women-raise-their-voices-at-the-un/128/.
Answers of Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Parliamentary to follow-up questions on (Dalit) women and human rights in India
Written questions of the member Voordewind to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade & Development Co-operation about sexual violence against women in India and constraints for human rights organizations.
The follow-up questions also dealt with the following issues:
- the parliamentary motion on priority for Dalits in Dutch Human rights policy
- the Indian (Dalit) winner of the Human Rights Tulip 2012
- meeting of the EU Delegation with India on the 'watchlist' of organizations
- constraints for women and human rights organizations
- problems of Dutch organizations in getting visa for India
See the full questions and answers by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs (June 10, 2013): http://www.dalits.nl/130328e.html.
Steel project threatens thousands of Dalits
Rights groups have urged the Indian government to end human rights abuses tied to its project with South Korean steel giant POSCO and to stop illegal seizures of land that may forcibly displace thousands of Dalits and other
A huge industrial project in the Indian state of Orissa threatens to destroy a vibrant, sustainable local economy and the livelihoods of as many as 2000 people, including thousands of Dalits. A new report calls for a suspension of the US$ 12 billion POSCO-India project and a halt to the ensuing human rights abuses "before they become even more catastrophic in scale".
Read more: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/steel-project-threatens-thousands-of-dalits/128/.
UN expert: Education system fails Dalits
In his most recent report, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism notes that discrimination against Dalits in the educational system is widespread in caste-affected countries. It leads to high dropout rates
and even suicides. All children, especially Dalits and other vulnerable groups, should have access to good-quality education. Discrimination of these groups is "a challenge to the construction of a tolerant society which rests upon an inclusive education system". This is the message conveyed by Mutuma Ruteere, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, in his report to the upcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council.
Read more: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/un-expert-education-system-fails-dalits/128/.
In the land of Gandhi and Modi, Dalits still render water 'impure' for others
Ahmedabad: Just 45 kms from the cosmopolitan hub of Ahmedabad, a village in Bavla Talika district has been found to be using caste as a parameter for distribution of water supply. On the scale, the highest castes of Rajputs
and Patels have exclusive access to the well in the morning from 8 to 10 am, with Bharwas and Vaghris using the well from 10 to 12 am. Dalits, or Harijans as they are locally known, are only allowed access after 12 am till 2 pm.
According to a report, the pipelines carrying water are also arranged so each caste has a different one for their exclusive use. While the two upper castes can and do use each other's water interchangeably, graphic warnings
levying 'strict penalties' on Dalits if they are caught using others' water decorate the surrounding walls.
Read more: http://daily.bhaskar.com/article/GUJ-AHD-gujarat-ahmedabad-gandhi-and-modi-dalits-still-render-water-impure-for-others-4290944-NOR.html.
Yemen's Al-Akhdam face brutal oppression
In a joint submission to the UN's UPR mechanism, the All Youth Network in Yemen and IDSN provide an alternative report on the precarious human rights conditions of the Al-Akhdam people and urge the Government of Yemen to address their situation.
Al-Akhdam children risk sexual, physical and psychological abuse by dominant members of Yemeni society. They live in poverty and have almost no access to education.
They cannot own land. They are subjected to violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation. They are often extremely poor and are forced to carry out the most menial and dirty jobs. They have almost no access to education. Their
children are at constant risk of sexual, physical and psychological abuse by dominant members of society. They are generally despised, considered subhuman and treated as outcastes.
Read more: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/yemens-al-akhdam-face-brutal-oppression/128/.
IndiaNews - July 2, 2013
New report A Tale of Two Companies
The India Committee of the Netherlands and the campaign Stop Child Labour - School is the best place to workjust released the report: A Tale of Two Companies -The difference between action and inaction in combating child labour.
An article (Two Dutch vegetable seed companies in India compared: Large-scale child labour at Bejo Sheetal - Numhems almost without child labour) and the report A Tale of Two Companies plus a reprint of the path-breaking report No Child Labour - Better Wages can be found here: http://www.indianet.nl/130629e.html.
Child Labour Free Zones
Also have a look at information on Child Labour Free Zones in India and
various African countries, including the Kampala Declaration - Working
Towards Child Labour Free Zones:
IndiaNews - May 8, 2013
Stop the killing, act now - Clean Clothes Campaign urges brands to sign Safety Agreement
Today there are already more than 800 victims of the man-made disaster in Bangladesh.
The Clean Clothes Campaign is sickened by the preventable collapse of Rana Plaza and condemns brands for their failure to prevent such heavy loss of life once again. Brands must now come forward, ensure emergency steps are taken and pay without delay into a compensation fund for the victims and their families. They must also commit to prevent future disasters.
Tell brands to take responsibility and sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement! You can do that here: http://www.cleanclothes.org/action/current-actions/rana-plaza.
Culture of impunity harms Dalit women
On the last day of her visit to India, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Ms. Rashida Manjoo, said that Dalit women experience some of the worst forms of discrimination and oppression. India lost an opportunity when introducing new rape legislation recently, she said. The legislative measures adopted in the wake of last December's brutal gang rape incident in Delhi fail to address inequality and discrimination issues that are closely interlinked with violence against women.
This is one of the messages contained in a statement from the UN Special Rapporteur, who concluded an official mission to India recently. She stressed that a legislative and policy approach is insufficient without addressing discrimination and violence and the pervasive culture of impunity in India.
Read the article and see the statement of Mrs. Manjoo:
Asian Development Bank complicit in human rights violations in India
Exploitation of workers, violations of labour laws, child labour, hazardous working conditions and lethal accidents at the work place. This is just a sample related to 10 projects that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) finances in India. Big projects, like building a metro and the construction of an electricity network. The Netherlands is a shareholder of the ADB.
Read more, including reports on the issue, action undertaken in India and parliamentary questions raised by Dutch parliament: http://www.indianet.nl/adb-india_e.html.
New parliamentary questions on women, Dalits and human rights in India
Following up on previous questions on the same issues Member of Dutch Parliament Mr. Joël Voordewind (ChristianUnion) has raised new questions to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade & Development Co-operation about sexual violence against women in India and constraints for human rights organizations.
In addition the follow-up questions also deal with the following issues:
- the parliamentary motion on priority for Dalits in Dutch Human rights policy
- the Indian (Dalit) winner of the Human Rights Tulip 2012
- meeting of the EU Delegation with India on the ‘watchlist’ of organizations
- constraints for women and human rights organizations
- problems of Dutch organizations in getting visa for India
You can find the full questions and the previous questions to and answers by the Dutch government here: http://www.indianet.nl/130328e.html.
Kampala Declaration Working towards Child Labour Free Zones - The final version
As we informed you in the previous IndiaNews, on April 16th - 19th, 120 child rights defenders from at the conference Out of Work, Into School - Working towards Child Labour Free Zones. During this conference, organized by Stop Child Labour and her local partners, the area-based approach and the Child Labour Free Zones were promoted as the most effective and successful way to combat child labour in Africa. This approach was successfully pioneered in India by the MV Foundation.
The final Kampala Declaration, the outcome of this conference, is now available. You will find the declaration and more background information here: http://www.indianet.nl/clfz_e.html.
UPR (‘human rights exam’) Bangladesh: Dalits need protection
When Bangladesh was reviewed by the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism on 29 April, concerns were expressed about the human rights situation of the country’s minorities, including Dalits. Vulnerable and marginalised groups in Bangladesh, including Dalits, need more protection from the country’s government, a number of states declared during the UPR session of Bangladesh in Geneva.
See for more information:
IndiaNews - April 24, 2013
Kampala Declaration Working towards Child Labour Free Zones unanimously adopted!
The Stop Child Labour movement is growing from strength to strength. On April 16th - 19th, child rights defenders came together in the Ugandan capital Kampala. 120 delegates from 24 countries, within and outside the African continent, gathered at the Conference Out of Work, Into School - Working towards Child Labour
Free Zones. During this conference, organized by Stop Child Labour and her local partners, the area-based
approach and the Child Labour Free Zones were promoted as the most effective and successful way to combat child labour in Africa. This approach was successfully pioneered in India by the MV Foundation.
Read more about the Child Labour Free Zones, watch the speech of Dutch Minister of Trade and Development Co-operation and read the Conference Background Paper and the Kampala Declaration here:
Britain bans caste discrimination
As the first country outside South Asia, the UK has decided to legislate against caste discrimination. This form of discrimination will now be included as "an aspect of race" in Britain´s equality legislation. This spring, campaigners have organised three rallies against caste discrimination. Years of campaigning for a law to ban caste discrimination were finally rewarded yesterday, as the UK government made a u-turn and decided to offer legal protection to Britain´s hundreds of thousands of Dalits. When the news about the government´s change of heart reached the 1,000 demonstrators who had gathered outside Parliament as part of their campaign to outlaw caste
discrimination, it was greeted with jubilation. A number of UK Dalit and Dalit solidarity organizations have been fighting on the issue.
See the press release by the International Dalit Solidarity Network and more background information:
Dutch Minister Foreign Affairs on Dalit issue, violence against women, Dalit Human Rights Winner 2012, 'suspect list of organizations' and visa problems
Two months ago the Dutch Parliament asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation to undertake more action against (sexual) violence against women, especially Dalit women who frequently are victims. The Parliament was also very concerned about the fact that the Indian government put
a large number of Indian and international organizations on a 'suspect list' and imposed visa restrictions on the
latter. The Minister reacted to the questions end of March. In the article below (and the attached full questions and answers) you will find the reaction the answers of the India Committee of the Netherlands. These can be summarized as follows:
* Dalit issues should stay on agenda EU and UN - but it is not clear
* The Netherlands supports European Parliament resolution on
violence against women in India
* Violence against women to be discussed at the EU-India human
* No political support for winner Human Rights Tulip 2012
* EU Delegation wants discussion with Indian authorities on list
* Minister evades question about visa problems of Dutch citizens
See the full article: http://www.indianet.nl/130328e.html.
Petition against violence around POSCO project in Orissa
POSCO, a South Korean steel giant, has been seeking since 2006 to build a $12 billion steel plant in Jagatsinghpur, Orissa, wreaking havoc on the livelihoods of the local people and the local environment, and in the process trampling upon democratic norms, human rights standards, and the truth. Popular resistance has been blocking the project and the state has responded with repression and violence. Please support the
international solidarity campaign by signing this petition addressed to India´s National Human Rights Commission. See: http://www.miningzone.org.
A report by India´s Alternative Law Forum documents the political repression: Captive Democracy: Abuse of the criminal system and filing of false cases to curb dissent against the POSCO steel plant in Orissa. See:
Child labour in the Indian textile industry - Rescue of 'Sumangali Girls'
Poverty stuck families where agriculture no longer wins them bread, send their daughters to jobs in textile mills under the Sumangali scheme, also as a way for getting the girls married because they can earn their dowry in the factories. At least that is one part of the story.
The Indian organization SAVE writes: "Once the girls land into the industry, the core reality hits hard on them. The worst form of exploitation by the management
make the workers exhausted and most of the bitter experiences remain unsaid inside the hearts of many girls.
Away from home, with no one to support them, these girls languish inside the textile/garment units. Money and political power buries most of the atrocities inside walls of the industries."
Read more about the rescue of the girls and the Sumangali Scheme: http://www.indianet.nl/130402e.html.
IndiaNews - March 8, 2013
Time for Transparency in the garment industry
In recent years, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) conducted research into labour rights abuses in the textile and garment industry in Tamil Nadu, India. It became clear that the linkages between the investigated manufacturers and their clientele are very complex, and difficult to unravel. Local factories, well-known clothing brands and retailers only rarely make public who their business partners are. It is difficult to find out where exactly clothing brands source their products. Although, according to international guidelines, enterprises have to map their supply chain
and make this information accessible to stakeholders, most companies simply do not come forward with this kind of information. In this latest paper on the Indian textile industry, Time for Transparency, SOMO and ICN elaborate on why the garment industry has to become more transparent. In addition, SOMO and ICN show buyer-supplier
connections within the industry that normally remain hidden for consumers and other stakeholders.
See the full article and the report: http://www.indianet.nl/130305e.html.
Comprehensive action needed to end violence against Dalit women and girls
On International Women's Day, Minority Rights Group International (MRG) calls for comprehensive action to end violence against Dalit women and girls, including breaking down the barriers encountered by them at all stages of the justice system. "Dalit women and girls in South Asia are often doubly disadvantaged because of their caste
and gender, and face an excessive prevalence of violence and discrimination. This vulnerability underscores their urgent need for effective and efficient access to justice", says Carl Soderbergh, MRG´s Director of Policy and Communications. Asha Kowtal of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights in India, states: "Our appeal to the international fraternity is to join forces with us to build a sustained pressure group to promote proper implementation of existing legislation and ensure a caste-gender framework in all new policies and laws. The goal is to end impunity and seek justice for all."
See full article and background: http://www.minorityrights.org/?lid=11794&bid=113.
Annual Report 2012 International Dalit Solidarity Network and Dalit Network Netherlands
The new Annual Report 2012 of International Dalit Solidarity Network is out with many interesting
chapters on work in the caste-affected countries (India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the
UK), the United Nations, the European Union and the private sector as well as the work of the European Dalit Solidarity Groups.
Some IDSN Highlights 2012:
* Campaign in India to strengthen legislation protecting Dalits
* Maila Mukti Yatra - a march to end manual scavenging in India
* National institutions in Bangladesh commit to work for Dalit rights
* UN Reviews of India, UK and Pakistan include recommendations on caste
* Campaign to mobilise EU MEPs to support the struggle to end caste discrimination
* European Parliament Resolution on caste discrimination in India
* New IDSN films We are not Untouchable and Dalit Women
See the Annual Report 2012: http://www.dalits.nl/dnn_idsn_e.html.
See also the report (included in the IDSN Report) on the Dalit Network Netherlands:
IndiaNews - February 16, 2013
Amnesty & Human Rights Watch reject new ordinance against sexual violence
Amnesty International en Human Rights Watch are of the view that the Indian parliament should "substantially amend or replace the new criminal law on violence against women in the forthcoming budget session of the parliament" as it "fails to provide crucial human rights protections and redress for victims".
According to the press release "the ordinance also retains effective legal immunity for members of state security forces accused of sexual violence, harms rather than helps teenagers by increasing the age of consent to sex, and defines 'trafficking' in a way that might conflate it with adult consensual sex work." The ordinance also
fails to repeal a section of the Penal Code, which criminalizes consensual same-sex relations among adults.
See the complete report of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch here:
Shocking Report about sexual abuse of Indian children
Recently Human Rights Watch published the shocking report Breaking the Silence - Child Sexual Abuse in India.
You can find an article about the report and the report itself here:
Dalit human rights defender murdered
Chandrakant Gaikwad, a 30-year old Dalit human rights defender from Maharashtra, was shot dead on 12 February. His suspected killer had previously issued threats against Mr. Gaikwad for filing an atrocity case against him.
The murder of a young Dalit human rights defender has once again focused attention on the dangers of taking a stand against caste discrimination and atrocities in India. Dalit human rights defenders risk imprisonment, harassment, torture - even death.
Follow-up questions of MEPs on Child labour and shoe production
Five Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) of various political groups of the European parliament are not satisfied with the answers of the European Commission about child labour in the production of shoes worldwide. They again raised questions with the Commission on the issue.
The MEPs wants to know: "What action is the Commission willing to take to encourage footwear companies to pay more attention to the problem of child labour in their supply chain?" They also want to know if the commission is willing to pursue further research on child labour and human rights issues in the global footwear industry.
See for the complete questions: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/vr130121e.pdf. And for more background information, including reports:
Dalit NGO Navsarjan wins award
The Dalit human rights organisation and long-standing IDSN associate, Navsarjan, has won a prestigious award instituted by newspaper The Times of India. Navsarjan has been honoured with a Times of India Social Impact Award for its pioneering work on behalf of the legal rights of Dalits and other marginalised communities in the state of
Overview Reports about Human Rights in India 2012
A number of organizations, including the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN the Asian Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch en Amnesty International have published overview reports on the human rights situation in India in India in 2012. You will find these and other reports together on this webpage:
IndiaNews - February 4, 2013
European Parliament urges India to fight violence against women
The European Parliament mid-January adopted a resolution on violence against women in India. The document contains several references to caste discrimination and the situation of Dalit women.
The European Parliament expressed "deep concern about the widespread violence committed against Dalit women and girls in India, including sexual violence committed by men of dominant castes.” The resolution text expresses concern about “the extraordinary high level of impunity" in cases of sexual violence against Dalit women and calls on the Indian Government to "treat all cases of sexual violation towards all women equally and to investigate and prosecute them in an equal, fair, transparent and speedy manner."
Read more: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/ep-urges-india-to-fight-violence-against-women/128/.
Concern about constraints human rights organizations in India: Dutch Parliament wants support to (Dalit) women in India
An almost two-third majority in Dutch Parliament are urging the Ministers of Foreign Affairs Foreign Trade and Development co-operation, to support action against (sexual) violence against women, in particular Dalit women. The Parliament also asks the Ministers what the Dutch government is going to do to support the winner of the Dutch Human Rights Tulip 2012, Dalit activist Marimuthu Bharathan in his struggle for human rights of Dalits.
In addition the Parliament is very concerned about the fact that the Indian government has put a large number of Indian and international organizations on the 'suspect list' and imposed visa restrictions. The Parliament wants the Dutch government to urgently request the Indian government to make this list public. The Parliament also wants the government to give her assessment about the issuing of visa by India to Dutch citizens in view of the many visa problems. Finally the Dutch Parliament wants the government to raise the constraints for the freedom of association and freedom of speech of Indian human rights organizations with the European Union, in order to bring this issue jointly to the attention of the Indian government.
See article and full questions by the Dutch Parliament: http://www.indianet.nl/130128e.html.
Speeches Dalit winner and Chair of Jury Human Rights Tulip 2012
On January 9th 2013 the Dalit activist Marimuthu Bharathan officially received – in his absence – the Dutch Human Rights Tulip 2012 from Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Frans Timmermans. Bharathan did not get a passport from the Indian government to receive the award himself in The Netherlands. In his acceptance speech, part of which was read out during the award ceremony, Bharathan said: "Why should I speak about caste while addressing on the issues of Human Rights? The Hindu caste system itself is a violation of Human Rights."
The chair of the jury of the Human Rights Tulip, eminent feminist Mrs. Cisca Dresselhuys, said in her speech: "This time our winner is a Dalit, who spends his whole adult life for the benefit of that part of the Indian population, which - on paper - might have rights, but often not in practice." And: "When it became known that Bharathan won an award, somewhere far away in a small country called The Netherlands, the Indian government was not really happy with the message… There was a warning that the good relations between The Netherlands and India could be significantly harmed if the award went to Mr. Bharathan… [but] we don’t step down from this choice!"
Read the full speeches of Mr. Bharathan and Mrs. Dresselhuys, newspaper interviews with Bharathan and see the pictures of the ceremony: http://www.dalits.nl/130109e.html.
Scavengers’ march sends message of hope
IDSN press release, 31 January 2013: After travelling thousands of kilometers through 18 Indian states, the Maila Mukti Yatra – a march to eradicate manual scavenging – concluded with an event in New Delhi. The attendance by high level officials from the Government of India as well as the United Nations is a measure of the Yatra’s success. At the beginning of the Yatra, baskets used for manual scavenging were burnt to symbolize the liberation from this inhuman practice.
Thousands of former and present manual scavengers gathered in New Delhi today to mark the end of their long march to eradicate this inhuman practice. Manual scavenging is officially banned in India, but hundreds of thousands of mainly Dalit women are still forced into this form of caste-based slavery.
More about the march and manual scavenging: http://www.dalits.nl/manualscavenging.html.
New Report Wages of Inequality: Women growing seeds for companies in India are discriminated and underpaid
Other key messages of the new report:
* Agricultural wages have increased but they are still below minimum wages
* Multinationals do not do pay better wages than Indian companies
* Dalits often make longer working days
* Child labour depresses agricultural wages
The Fair Labor Association (FLA) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) in December 2012 published the report Wages of Inequality - Wage Discrimination and Underpayment in Hybrid Seed Production in India. The report is based on field research into the wages of labourers - women, men and children - who are growing cotton and vegetable seed in four Indian states. They are working for farmers that supply their seeds to Indian as well as multinational companies. The latter are - among others - Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont, US Agri, East-West Seeds, Bayer, Advanta and Bejo Sheetal.
Go to the full article and the report: http://www.indianet.nl/121212e.html.
IndiaNews - January 9, 2013
Dalit award winner is refused passport
The winner of the Dutch Human Rights Tulip 2012 is barred from traveling to the Netherlands to receive his award. Marimuthu Bharathan, a Dalit human rights defender from Tamil Nadu, has been refused a passport by the Indian authorities. When Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans will present his country's award, the Dutch Human Rights Defender's Tulip, at a ceremony later today in The Hague, the recipient will regrettably be absent for the second year in a row.
Last year, Chinese activist Ni Yulan was in custody awaiting trial during the award ceremony. This year, the Indian human rights defender, Marimuthu Bharathan, 52, has been prevented from travelling abroad due to the Indian authorities' refusal to renew his passport. According to Indian human rights organisations, this refusal appears to be connected with a false murder charge.
The independent award jury in the Netherlands has recognised Marimuthu Bharathan as a "tireless champion of better living and working conditions for his country's Dalits". Himself a Dalit, he works against caste discrimination by supporting Dalits who as manual scavengers are condemned to clean dry latrines with their bare hands. He also sets up Dalit organisations, campaigns......
See for the full press release and article: http://www.dalits.nl/130109e.html.
IndiaNews - December 31, 2012
The India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) wishes you all a very happy and healthy New Year!
We hope to also inform you in 2013 about our work and important developments in areas of child labour, caste-based discrimination and other human rights issues, with a focus on India and other countries in South Asia. We do of course welcome your responses and comments.
Around the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 we also ask you to kindly spend a little time on supporting the three important causes below. We further offer you an overview of the publications of ICN and its partners published in 2012.
Support the petition by Mohan Bhuiyan – Save 228 families in Jharkhand from displacement
"After mining our land to a state of barrenness where our farms, forests and ponds have been destroyed, India's biggest mining conglomerates are now trying to forcibly displace me and my neighbours from the only home we've known. You might ask, 'if things are so bad at home, then why not move?' This is why. First, any decision to move must be our own. Second, the area they want to move us to is a no man's land. There are no schools, no roads, no hospital, and no water. It is a dead and unlivable place."
Please support his petition:
Support petition to outlaw caste-discrimination in the UK
Caste discrimination is not only violating human rights in South Asia. 250,000 Dalits live in the United Kingdom and face discrimination, prejudice and abuse in many aspects of daily life. A government report found that discrimination on the basis of caste in the UK leads to reduced career prospects, lower earnings, detrimental effects on education, social isolation, and reduced access to social provisions, as well as causing severe emotional trauma; depression, anger and loss of self-esteem.
Despite caste discrimination being included in the 2010 Equality Act, the government has not activated this clause and therefore not given Dalits equal protection under the law.
The Dalit Solidarity Network UK calls on the Home Secretary to uphold the essential British value of equality by outlawing caste discrimination. One victim is one too many.
Support the petition to outlaw caste-discrimination in the UK: http://dsnuk.org/2012/10/24/please-sign-the-petition-2/.
Send Mr. Scribble to urge shoe brands to work without child labour
The campaign Stop Child Labour has recently published an assessment on the policies and practices of 28 shoe companies regarding child labour and labour rights violations as well as a larger report – Where the shoe pinches - on the shoe industry worldwide. You will these reports below.
You can also let your voice be heard on this issue: put pressure on shoe companies to let them know that you don’t want to buy shoes made with child labour!
Please go to this page and send Mr. Scribble to one or more shoe companies:
New Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs wants a stronger EU policy on Dalits
The year ended for the Dalit Network Netherlands, of which ICN is the co-ordinating member, with positive new regarding the position of the Dutch government on the Dalit issue. The new Minister of Foreign Affairs replied elaborately to a question raised by an MP on the implementation of a motion on Dalits - http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/pb110701e.pdf - which was adopted last year June but not implemented by the former Minister of Foreign affairs. The Minister said among other things:
"Mister Voordewind [an MP] has raised a very important and complex issue: the position of Dalits. It is my opinion that the social emancipation of population groups that for centuries are not even on the ladder, let alone on the bottom rung of a ladder, belongs to the desire of the international community to apply the universality of human rights to every human being. Therefore I think that we should carefully consider the position of Dalits and also have to invest in strengthening that position. The topic of discrimination based on work and descent has – as far as I am concerned – to be put higher on the agenda of the European Union. The European Parliament has recently adopted a very relevant resolution about the position of Dalits and I think that we can also better shape European policy on that basis."
See for more information (including a translation of the full debate between the MP and the Minister of Foreign Affairs): http://www.indianet.nl/q&motions.html.
For more information on the work of DNN and new articles on Dalits (in English) see: http://www.dalits.nl/english.html.
PUBLICATIONS IN 2012 BY ICN AND COALITIONS IN WHICH ICN PARTICIPATES
Report by ICN and the Fair Labour Association:
Wages of Inequality: Women growing seeds for companies in India are discriminated and underpaid.
Other key messages of the new report:
* Agricultural wages have increased but they are still below minimum wages
* Multinationals do not behave better than Indian companies regarding wages
* Dalits often make longer working days
* Child labour depresses agricultural wages
Go to the full article and the report: http://www.indianet.nl/121212e.html.
Reports by ICN and SOMO:
Bonded (child) labour in the South Indian garment industry: An Update of Debate and Action on the ‘Sumangali Scheme’: http://www.indianet.nl/UpdateOnSumangali.html.
Maid in India – Young Dalit Women Continue to Suffer Exploitative Conditions in India’s Garment Industry: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/pb120425e.pdf.
Still ‘Captured by Cotton’? - preview to new report on exploited Dalit girls: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/pb120305e.pdf.
Reports of the campaign Stop Child Labour - School is the best place to work:
Child Labour in the leather footwear industry – An overview and assessment of policies and implementation of 28 footwear companies: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/ChildLabourInTheLeatherFootwearIndustry.pdf.
Where the shoe pinches - Child Labour in the production of brand name leather shoes: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/WhereTheShoePinches.pdf.
Report Lobbying and Advocacy for Child Labour Free Zones: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/LobbyingAndAdvocacyForChildLabourFreeZones.pdf.
New position paper Stop Child Labour: http://www.indianet.nl/WorkingTowardsCLFZ.html.
Action Plan for Companies to Combat Child Labour - Updated version: http://www.indianet.nl/actionplanchildlabour.html.
New brochure Stop Child Labour campaign: http://www.indianet.nl/SchoolTheBestPlaceToWork.html.
All these publications and more can also be found on: http://www.stopchildlabour.org/.
Brochure Dalit Network Netherlands:
Do you want to know more about the work of the Dalit Network Netherlands (member of the International Dalit Solidarity Network), then please see this brochure: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/EndCasteDiscrimination.pdf.
Annual Report 2011 IDSN:
The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) Annual Report 2011 describes the developments in caste-affected countries and the activities of IDSN at the level of the UN, the EU, European governments and the private sector. It also includes reports by coalitions in European countries, including a report on the work of the Dalit Network Netherlands (see page 32/33).
See the full report: http://www.dalits.nl/dnn_idsn_e.html.
IndiaNews - December 13, 2012
New report Wages of Inequality: Women growing seeds for companies in India are discriminated and
Other key messages of the new report:
* Agricultural wages have increased but they are still below minimum
* Multinationals do not behave better than Indian companies regarding
* Dalits often make longer working days
* Child labour depresses agricultural wages
The Fair Labor Association (FLA) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) have just published the report Wages of Inequality - Wage Discrimination and Underpayment in Hybrid Seed Production in India. The report is based on field research by Dr. Davuluri Venkateswarlu and Mr. Jacob Kalle into the wages of labourers - women, men and children - who are growing cotton and vegetable seed in four Indian states. They are working for farmers that supply their seeds to Indian as well as multinational companies. The latter are - among others - Monsanto,
Syngenta, Dupont, US Agri, East-West Seeds, Bayer, Advanta and Bejo Sheetal.
Go to the full article and the report: http://www.indianet.nl/121212e.html.
Press release International Dalit Solidarity Network (13-12-12): European Parliament adopts historic resolution on Dalits
A strongly worded resolution on caste discrimination in India was debated and adopted today by the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The Parliament condemned the high number of atrocities committed against Dalits in India and the Indian government´s insufficient action on the issue of caste discrimination. The European Parliament (EP) today sent a strong message of solidarity to millions of victims of caste discrimination in India and urged the country´s authorities to live up to their pledges to end this serious human rights problem and ensure protection of
Dalits and other vulnerable groups.
Find the press release and resolution here: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/european-parliament-
New (Updated) Report Stop Child Labour: Campaign Stop Child Labour welcomes positive steps by shoe companies - much remains to be done
The campaign Stop Child labour - School is the best place to work has just published its final report Child labour in the footwear industry - an overview and assessment of implementation of 28 footwear companies. The report is the result of research on and active engagement with 28 footwear companies over the last year. The report contains profiles of the companies with regard to their policies and practices on combating child labour and
(partly) other labour rights violations. It also describes the process of engagement with the companies.
Go to the full article: http://www.stopchildlabour.org/Stop-Childlabour/News-Items/Stop-Child-Labour-welcomes-positive-steps-by-shoe-companies-much-remains-to-be-done.
The report can be downloaded here: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/ChildLabourInTheLeatherFootwearIndustry.pdf.
IndiaNews - October 24, 2012
Press release: Shoe companies are far from being child labour free
In Europe and elsewhere one can still buy shoes made by children. That is the conclusion of the campaign Stop Child labour - School is the best place to work on the basis of research in India. Stop Child Labour specifically suspects four companies - Bata, Bugatti, Clarks and Marks & Spencer - of making use of child labour in their Indian supply chain.
In addition 28 footwear companies were asked about their policy on tackling child labour in their supply chain worldwide. The research of SOMO also showed that child labour is a problem in quite a number of countries like China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh.
See the full press release and background documents here: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/pb121024.pdf.
138 bonded (child) labourers found in spinning mills in Tamil Nadu
Several media in India have reported that on the 15th and 16th of October a total of 138 children working in spinning mills in Tamil Nadu were rescued by state officials. Of them 38 children were younger than 14 years of age. The children worked 12 hour shifts. For several months the children, who live in hostels, were not allowed to visit their homes. The raid by the officials was instigated by the Tirupur People´s Forum (TPF), a network of 41 NGOs in Tamil Nadu. TPF issues a press release saying that "there are 200.000 girls working as bonded labourers under the Sumangali Scheme (camp coolie scheme). Most of them are less than 18 years and many even less less than 14 year." TPF demands legal action against the violators of children´s rights and proper
rehabilitation of the rescued children. Recently the Apparel Export Promotion Council denied, after the US put the
garment sector on a list of sectors with a high child labour risk, that there was any substantial child labour in
See the article with links to more information here:
Reports by ICN and SOMO on bonded (child) labour highlighted in Indian press
Recently the Indian Economic Times published an elaborate article based on the ICN-SOMO reports Captured by Cotton and Maid in India with comments from the industry. The Economic Times writes:
"Over the last year or so, the industry has been rocked by reports from a European NGO alleging the use of bonded labour. India's textile makers can ill-afford such a name."
"Yet, the situation is far from a stalemate. After the public outbreak of the issue, the industry has drafted a code of conduct on labour issues, which it is insisting their members follow. Officially, Sumangali stands scrapped. The Tirupur Exporters' Association has even floated a stakeholders' forum that has, among others, NGOs on board too."
The article can be found here: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/a121011.pdf.
Also the online magazine Textile Excellence of the Indian textile and garment industry published a long article on the issue: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/a120916.pdf.
Recently the European Parliament again raised questions on the bonded labour of - largely - Dalit girls In the Indian garment industry: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/vr121009.pdf.
If you look for the ICN/SOMO reports and more background information, including a recent short film made by the Indian NGO SAVE you have to look here: http://www.indianet.nl/sumangali_e.html.
IDSN Newsletter August-September 2012
The newsletter of the International Dalit Solidarity Network again contains a lot of interesting articles, including:
- Employers of manual scavengers to face prison
- Dalits campaign to strengthen law
- Bollywood Star rejects caste discrimination
- Bangladesh: call for law to protect Dalits
- Pakistan: Dalits call for affirmative action
- UN rapporteurs speak on `untouchability´
UN review of Pakistan 30 October 2012: Urgent protection needed for minorities
IDSN Press Release (23 October 2012): The Government of Pakistan has failed to honour the commitments it made at
the UN review of its human rights record four years ago. International NGOs are urging states to
recommend it to ensure full protection of minorities, including Dalits and other marginalised groups.
When Pakistan´s human rights record comes up for review again at the UN on 30 October, there must be a strong focus on the rights of religious minorities and other marginalised groups, whose human rights situation has deteriorated over the past few years, NGOs said today in a joint statement.
See the full press release and background documents: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/un-review-of-pakistan-urgent-protection-needed-for-minorities/128/.
IndiaNews - July 26, 2012
Members of European Parliament raise pertinent questions about tackling child labour in global footwear industry
Members of European Parliament (MEPs) Ria Oomen-Ruijten (Christan Democrat, EEP) and Thijs Berman (Social Democrat, S&D) together raised a number of questions to the High Representative for Foreign Affairs as well as the European Commission about child labour and labour rights violations in the leather footwear industry. Trigger of
these questions is the report Where the Shoe Pinches of research organization SOMO made at the request of the
Stop Child Labour - School is the best place to work campaign.
Another reason for Oomen and Berman to prompt the High Representative and the European Commission for action, was the outcome of a survey of the Stop Child Labour campaign itself, showing that many shoe companies did not respond at all to questions about how they tackled child labour, or had nothing or little to say about it.
MEPs Oomen and Berman are asking for:
- An active 'shoe diplomacy' in China, India, Vietnam and Brasilia;
- Supply chain transparency and a concrete plan of action with companies
in the shoe-sector;
- Raise the issue at the EU-India free trade negotiations, in relation to including dispute
settlement and civil society involvement on labour and human rights issues in thre treaty;
- Additional research on child labour and the other human rights violations in the global
footwear sector supliying to the EU-market;
- Further action based on the new EU CSR Strategy 2011-2013.
Please find the full article on the questions and links to the complete questions here on the
homepage of Stop Child Labour: http://www.stopchildlabour.org/Stop-Childlabour/News-Items/Members-of-European-Parliament-raise-pertinent-questions-about-tackling-child-labour-in-global-footwear-industry.
Also more background information on the issue can be found on the website http://www.stopchildlabour.org.
IndiaNews - July 23, 2012
Tell Unilever human rights are not a matter of taste!
The IUF reports: "Two years after signing an agreement with the IUF (International Union of Food, Farm and Hotel Workers Worldwide) which it has never implemented, Unilever is on the verge of committing itself to 4 more years of violating the basic rights of a group of Indian workers. Does the company's signature signify nothing? The agreement signed under the auspices of the UK government in July 2010 committed Unilever to restoring to the workers in its factory in Doom Dooma, Assam (India) their right to freely choose the union they wished to adhere to and which would represent them for collective bargaining purposes. On its website Unilever claimed 'The
agreement is being implemented.' The last two years, however, have seen only evasions, provocations and
management lies. Workers affiliated to the IUF have been put under surveillance at rallies; earlier this year the
union's office was firebombed. We don't believe Unilever is responsible for the arson attack, but we do hold it accountable for continued violations of basic rights which have allowed a volatile situation to fester."
Act now! - Send a message to company CEO Paul Polman telling Unilever to honor the agreement they have signed.
Can Bollywood shatter India´s castesystem?
Recently, Aamir Khan - leading film star and household name all over the India where Bollywood reigns supreme - began a prime-time show tackling India´s most serious issues. And the whole country is riveted. Journalist Mari Marcel Marcel Thaekara expresses hope on her blog on the website of the New Internationalist that more stars will join in:
Stimulating Living Wages in International Supply Chains
The report Living Wage in International Supply Chains concludes the first phase of the Stimulating
Living Wage/Income in International Supply Chains project commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
to consultancy firm Berenschot International for the period of January to June 2012. The overall mission of the project is to identify actors and factors that influence the implementation of living wage/income in developing countries. More specifically, the mission is to stimulate living wage/income in international supply chains through
Dutch businesses. However, the content of the project (including the consultation of various non-Dutch
stakeholders) is relevant for all businesses operating worldwide. The report and the accompanying activities were triggered by the campaign on living wage of the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Asia Floor Wage campaign (AFW).
See for more information: http://www.asiafloorwage.org/.
The main objectives of this report are to identify universally agreed dimensions of a living wage, identify key stakeholders´ roles and make recommendations for implementation in order to start an active engagement with Dutch companies, to assess and increase their level of commitment to living wage in international supply chains.
See the full report, appendices and a summary here: http://www.indianet.nl/LivingWage.html.
Newsletter of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights
The June Newsletter includes information on e.g.
- Lobby meetings at the European Union (EU)
- Training programme on National Rural Health Mission and technical
- Training Of Government Doctors and Officials in Andhra Pradesh on the
Issue of Inclusion
- Recommendations to the National Monitoring Committee for Education of
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Persons with Disabilities, New Delhi
- Recommendations to the Parliamentary Committee on Special Component
- Orissa government resurveys after Dalit Watch advocacy
- Campaign on Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities)
- Intensifying State-level Coalition for Strengthening the Prevention of
See this newsletter and previous issue:
Bonded (child) labour in Indian garment industry under global attack
Recent publications of SOMO and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) have significantly contributed to the fact that in Europe, the USA and The Netherlands steps are being taken against the large-scale child labour in the South Indian textile and garment industry. Both a number of garment brands as well as the Dutch, European
and American politicians are now starting to take some action against bonded (child) labour in South India
which is known as the `Sumangali Scheme´. In the Update of Debate and Action on the
Sumangali Scheme, SOMO and ICN describe new developments and actions that have been
taken since the publication of the reports Captured by Cotton in May 2011 and Maid in India
in April 2012.
See the full press release: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/pb120718e.pdf.
The press release is based on a document by SOMO and ICN: Bonded (child) labour in the South Indian Garment Industry - An Update of Debate and Action on the 'Sumangali Scheme'. You will find the Update here:
A full overview of reports, press releases, articles etc. can be found
IndiaNews - July 19, 2012
Brands and politicians are starting to act: Bonded (child) labour in Indian garment industry draws global attention
Recent publications of SOMO and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) have significantly contributed to the fact that in Europe, the USA and The Netherlands steps are being taken against the large-scale child labour in the South Indian textile and garment industry. Both a number of garment brands as well as the Dutch, European
and American politicians are now starting to take some action against bonded (child) labour in South India
which is known as the `Sumangali Scheme´. In the Update of Debate and Action on the Sumangali Scheme, SOMO and ICN describe new developments and actions that have been taken since the publication of the reports
Captured by Cotton in May 2011 and Maid in India in April 2012.
See the full press release: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/pb120718e.pdf. The press relase is based on a document by SOMO and ICN: Bonded (child)labour in the South Indian Garment Industry - An Update of Debate and Action on the 'Sumangali Scheme'. You will find the Update here:
A full overview of reports, press releases, articles etc. can be found here:
IndiaNews - July 4, 2012
IDSN Newsletter, June-July 2012
The June-July 2012 issue of the Newsletter of the International Dalit
Solidarity Network contains, among others, articles on:
* Why global pressure is necessary (article in Hindustan Times on the work by IDSN and
Dalit Network Netherlands)
* Observations on India and UK Universal Periodic Review´s in Human Rights Council
* Caste is alive in urban India
* Rehabilitation drive for manual scavengers
* Caste discrimination in Tamil Nadu on the rise
* Nepal: PM pledges to end caste discrimination
* UN High Commissioner for Human Rights visits Pakistan
See: http://idsn.org/news-resources/newsletter-archive/ and go to the
Precarious work in India - new report by new Global Union IndustriALL
Trade unions from around the world have decided last June to form a new global union called IndustriALL. The new organization brings together affiliates of International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers´ Unions (ICEM), the International Textile, Garment, Leather Workers´ Federation (ITGLWF), and the International
Metalworkers´ Federation (IMF).
IndustriaLL published the report Precarious work in India "looking at the situation across a number of IndustriALL sectors, including chemical, cement, textile and garment, vehicle manufacturing and mining, the report
finds that the use of permanent, direct employment is declining severely in India and is rapidly being replaced
by indirect, precarious work. Contract workers have vastly inferior terms and conditions to permanent
workers. The wages paid to contract workers are often less than the minimum prescribed by law, and usually not
sufficient to support a worker and their family. Contract workers are regularly denied access
to the Indian national social security and medical insurance schemes." For example: "In the Indian textile industry more than 50% of the workforce is employed on fixed-term contracts".
The report also discusses the `Sumangali Scheme´. Industriall: "The scheme has had a devastating effect, as what was once a permanent, largely unionized workforce has now become a workforce composed of very young - often under the age of 18 - fixed-term contract workers".
See the report: http://www.industriall-union.org/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/a4_india_report_new2.pdf.
Petition and video campaign to end untouchability: give your support!
We informed you before about a fascinating campaign against untouchability. Spreading it's message all over India, this campaign by Video Volunteers is a unique effort to get marginalized communities to document and showcase its own problems. Watch the videos, read the inspiring interview with filmmaker Stalin K. and do sign the
New position paper Stop Child Labour campaign
Read and the comment on the new position paper Out of Work and Into School - Working towards Child Labour Free Zones. See: http://www.indianet.nl/WorkingTowardsCLFZ.html.
IndiaNews - June 18, 2012
Follow-up of `human rights exams´ India and the UK
As a follow up to the Universal Periodic Reviews (UPRs) of India and the UK on 24 May, the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) calls for the effective implementation of all caste-related recommendations and for constructive engagement with civil society in the implementation process. India and the UK were reviewed for the second time by the UPR mechanism of the Human Rights Council on 24 May 2012. IDSN recommends effective follow up and implementation of the caste-specific recommendations by the two respective governments; something that was not
done by the Indian Government in 2008, in relation to any of the caste-specific recommendations. IDSN
also encourages other governments, agencies, and NGOs to make effective use of the recommendations in their work as a monitoring instrument for better human rights protection ofmarginalised groups. For this purpose, IDSN has prepared the following analysis and observations on the outcomes and follow up to the UPR. See:
The OECD Guidelines for MNEs: a tool for responsible business conduct
OECD Watch is an international network of civil society organisations promoting corporate accountability. The purpose of OECD Watch is to inform the wider NGO community about policies and activities of the OECD's Investment Committee and to test the effectiveness of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. A new brochure of OECD
Watch can be found here: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/OECDGuidelines.pdf. For more information on OECD Watch see: http://oecdwatch.org/.
Pakistan reviewed for second time by UN UPR Working Group
Pakistan will be reviewed for the second time by the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) Working Group at the 14th UPR session on 30 October 2012. On this occasion, Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN) and the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) have prepared and submitted a stakeholders' report to the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) concerning discrimination against Dalits in Pakistan. In the Joint UPR Submission recommendations are made on the measures to be taken by the Government of Pakistan to prevent and address caste-based discrimination.
When Pakistan was reviewed by the UPR Working Group at its 2nd session in
May 2008, several states expressed concern about the protection of minorities in Pakistan. In the outcome document of May 2008 the following recommendation was made and accepted: "To take measures to eliminate discrimination against castes and high degree of poverty suffered by castes (Luxembourg) and take specific targeted measures to effectively prevent discrimination against scheduled castes (Denmark)".
See for further information: http://www.dalits.nl/PakistanUPR2.html.
Thesis Dalit Women´s Collective Action
On June 20th 2012 Mrs. Jayshree Mangubhai will receive her doctoral degree at the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands) for het thesis: Human Rights as Practice: Dalit Women´s Collective Action to Secure Livelihood Entitlements in Rural South India. This study investigates the processes by which Dalit women in rural South
India secure livelihood entitlements, understood as protected access to and command over livelihood resources. It is based on ethnographic fieldwork in three villages across the state of Tamil Nadu, where Dalit women engage in struggles to secure or protect livelihood entitlements such as housing land or work. See the complete summary here:
New position paper Stop Child Labour campaign
The new position paper Out of Work and Into School - Working towards Child Labour Free Zones brings together the experience of the Stop Child Labour campaign in eliminating child labour in India and increasingly in Africa, compares this to the international standards of ILO and international standards and comes up with a range of recommendations to policy makers. It is a living document, so your comments, suggestions etc. are
most welcome. See: http://www.indianet.nl/WorkingTowardsCLFZ.html.
Action Plan for Companies to Combat Child Labour - Updated version
This Action Plan by Stop Child Labour builds on the varied experience of companies, trade
unions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), multistakeholder initiatives, governments and international organisations. But it also builds on our own experience and firm conviction that all forms of child labour should be eliminated so all children can enjoy their right to education. See: http://www.indianet.nl/actionplanchildlabour.html.
IndiaNews - June 12, 2012
Campaign We want childfriendly shoes!
There are still shoes produced by children for sale in the Netherlands (and elsewhere). However, most companies selling shoes on the Dutch market do not respond when asked how they address the issue of child labour in their supply chain. On 12 June, World Day against Child labour, a new campaign We want childfriendly shoes! is
launched by Stop Child Labour - School is the best place to work. In this campaign, consumers are
encouraged to tell shoe companies that they do not want shoes produced by children.
A recent study by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) commissioned by Stop Child Labour reveals that in India children aged 12 - 14 and older are working for us. This work is harmful to their health and often gets in the way of their right to education. "What´s happening is that child labour has moved from the first supplier in the shoe production chain to subcontractors `further down´ the supply chain",
explains Sofie Ovaa, coordinator of the Stop Child Labour campaign.
Read here the rest of the press release and link to the background article: http://www.indianet.nl/ka-shoes.html or http://www.stopchildlabour.org/Stop-Childlabour/News-Items/Shoe-companies-keep-silent-about-child-labour.
New position paper Stop Child Labour:
The new position paper Out of Work and Into School - Working towards Child Labour Free Zones starts with a quote from the MV Foundation, an NGO in India: "We have found that it is possible to bring children out of work in urban slums, ghettos, sweat shops, on garbage dumps, children engaged as domestic child labour and so on, back to the school system. Like wise we have demonstrated that parents of children in rural areas engaged in all forms of work in all kinds of agricultural operations like cattle herding and working in quarries and mines, were willing to send their children to schools once they gain confidence of the facilitating agency. This was true even of communities living in remote villages in the forests and coming from diverse ethnic and tribal cultures."
The position paper brings together the experience of the Stop Child Labour campaign in eliminating child labour in India and increasingly in Africa, compares this to the international standards of ILO and international standards and comes up with a range of recommendations to policy makers. It is a living document, so your
comments, suggestions etc. are most welcome. See: http://www.indianet.nl/WorkingTowardsCLFZ.html.
Action Plan for Companies to Combat Child Labour - Updated version
This Action Plan by Stop Child Labour builds on the varied experience of companies, trade unions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), multistakeholder initiatives, governments and international organisations. But it also builds on our own experience and firm conviction that all forms of child labour should be eliminated so all children can enjoy their right to education.
This document is primarily written for companies as well as multi-stakeholder initiatives that are working or intend to work on the elimination of child labour. However, we think this document is also useful for governments to (re)consider their policies and regulations, for NGOs to guide their action and engagement regarding company or
sector-related activities and for international organisations to further specify their policies on the subject of
IndiaNews - May 25, 2012
Dalit rights activists enraged at the failure of Indian delegations to address questions raised at the UN
Dalit rights activists gathered in Geneva are disappointed at the Indian delegation's immediate response to the real challenges that Dalits face, when India was reviewed at the UN Universal Periodic Review of India on 24 May. Activists comment that the delegation failed to adequately address concerns about
strengthening the Prevention of Atrocities Act, bringing in anti-discrimination law, the socio-economic development of Scheduled Castes (Dalits) and Scheduled Tribes (Tribals), and caste and gender intersectionality, among a number of other key concerns.
See for the full press release: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/pb120524e.pdf. See for more information on Dalits: http://www.dalits.nl/english.html.
IndiaNews - May 18, 2012
An innovating video campaign to end untouchability
A fascinating project is currently under way. Spreading it's message all over India, is a campaign against untouchability run by Video Volunteers, a unique effort to get a marginalized communities to document and showcase its own problems to bring them to the notice of the Indian public and authorities as well as the world. Watch the videos, read the inspiring interview with filmmaker Stalin K. and sign the petition:
India’s ‘human rights exam’ at UN Human Rights Council
On the 24th of May 2012 India is undergoing its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council. It is the second time that India has to do this 'human rights exam' in which it will be questioned by other countries on its human rights record and where recommendations will be given to improve it.
The review is based on the report of the Indian government itself as well as on a range of report from NGOs and other institutions, including the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR) and Human Rights Watch together with the International Dalit solidarity Network.
New CSR Frame of Reference now available in English
The new Frame of Reference for corporate social responsibility (CSR) of the Dutch MVO Platform provides a clear overview of how the Platform perceives CSR. It is developed by the 30 member organisations of the MVO Platform.
The joint mission of the organisations that work together in the MVO Platform is to ensure that companies are accountable for the social, ecological and economic consequences of their activities across their entire supply chain. Through this CSR Frame of Reference the MVO Platform expresses the expectations it has from the corporate sector. See: http://www.indianet.nl/CSRFrameOfReference.html.
Shiny Phone – Paltry Pay: A report focussing on Nokia in India
‘How poorly Paid Mobile Phone Workers in South India Try to Make Ends Meet’ by the Indian NGO Cividep is the sub-title of a report which focuses on the living conditions of workers in the Nokia SEZ [Special Economic Zone] and examines the standard of life they can afford from the wages they receive.
Nokia and its suppliers Foxconn and Wintek, all multi-national companies with operations worldwide should in principle be able to pay workers a living wage. A living wage is understood as a wage that covers all living expenses and leaves room for some savings for the future.
See the report here: http://cividep.org/wp-content/uploads/shiny-phone-paltry-pay.pdf.
More information and publications on the work of Cividep in the electronics sector can be found here: http://cividep.org/electronics-sector-work/.
IndiaNews - May 10, 2012
Motion Dutch Parliament on full supply chain transparency in garment industry
In the wake of the report Maid in India by SOMO and the India Committee of the Netherlands, the Dutch Parliament has adopted in large majority a resolution which 'requests the government, in co-operation with the garment sector, to reach an agreement about full supply-chain transparency and the eradication of child labour in the textile chain and to inform the Parliament about the results thereof.' The resolution mentions the report Maid in India - Young Dalit women exploited in Indian garment industry which got a lot of publicity in the Dutch press and was also covered by newspaper The Hindu: http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/article3359702.ece.
The press release and report Maid in India plus other articles on the issue can be found here:
Report on good practices and strategies to eliminate caste discrimination
The International Consultation on Caste-Based Discrimination held in Kathmandu, Nepal has (also) resulted in a comprehensive report on Good practices and strategies to eliminate caste discrimination by governments, civil society, national & international institutions and agencies. This report but also the outcome Declaration, Urgent Global Call and Recommendations from the Consultation can be found here: http://www.indianet.nl/ic-report-caste.html.
New brochure Stop Child Labour campaign
The campaign Stop Child labour - School is the best place to work has published a new elaborate brochure on its aims and activities. You can find it here: http://www.indianet.nl/SchoolTheBestPlaceToWork.html.
Publication Child Labour Platform
The Child Labour Platform - Report 2010-2011 gives practical information and advice to managers
and (representatives of) workers, who are addressing child labour within companies and their supply chain. The booklet contains business practices and lessons learned, building on the experiences of the companies participating in the (Dutch) Child Labour Platform during its first year. The discussions of the practices and lessons learned were guided by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The practices described are from different sectors and regions and therefore potentially applicable in many situations. The campaign Stop Child Labour provided input in the report. See the publication here: http://www.indianet.nl/childlabourplatform.html.
IDSN Newsletter March-April 2012
In the latest issue of the Newsletter of the International Dalit
Solidarity Network (IDSN) (http://idsn.org/news-resources/newsletter-archive/) you will find articles on these and other developments:
* UN expert on extrajudicial killings concerned about "high levels of
impunity" in India: After recently visiting India, the UN expert on extrajudicial executions, Mr. Christof Heyns, expressed concern about the plight of Dalits in India and called on the Government of India to continue to take measures to fight impunity in cases of extrajudicial executions, and communal and traditional killings.
* The European Parliament recommends EU legislation and policy measures to eliminate caste discrimination: The European Parliament´s resolution on the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World highlights caste discrimination.
* Manual Scavenging highlighted by ILO and others in conferences, reports and a hearing: In India, the ILO organised a conference to address manual scavenging, a National Public Hearing was held by The National Campaign for Dignity and Eradication of Manual Scavenging, new reports have been released and the media has reported widely about the outlawed yet persisting practice.
* UPR recommendations: Caste discrimination in India and the UK: India and the UK will be up for review by the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism of the Human Rights Council in May. NGOs including IDSN present briefing material and recommendations related to caste discrimination.
* Dalit human rights defenders need urgent protection says UN SR on Human Rights Defenders: The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Ms. Margaret Sekaggya, speaks out against the unacceptable situation faced by those defending Dalit human rights in South Asia.
See for the IDSN Newsletter (also back copies) and sign up here:
IndiaNews - April 25, 2012
Young Dalit women exploited in Indian garment industry
The new ICN/SOMO report Maid in India reveals that despite the industry's promises, young Dalit women
continue to suffer from exploitative conditions. See press release:
IndiaNews - March 6, 2012
Still ‘Captured by Cotton’? - preview to new report on exploited Dalit girls
The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) have published a sneak preview of their upcoming report on labour abuses in the South Indian garment industry.
In May 2011 SOMO and ICN published the report Captured by Cotton – Exploited Dalit girls produce garments in India for European and US markets. The report uncovered troubling evidence that products for big garment brands and retailers are being made by girls from Dalit and low caste background under exploitative working conditions in Tamil Nadu, South India.
In April 2012, publication of a follow-up report by SOMO and ICN is scheduled.
The new report examines the current situation at the four garment manufacturers originally investigated for Captured by Cotton. Following the first report, SOMO and ICN have looked at what the industry promised to undertake to curb labour abuses, what has actually been achieved, and to what effect.
See for more information and a link to the preview (Still ‘Captured by Cotton'?) here: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/pb120305e.pdf.
European Commission on torture in India
In reaction to questions raised by Member of European Parliament Mr. Peter van Dalen after the publication of the report Torture in India 2011, High Representative and Vice-Chair of the European Commission Ashton answered that torture and custodial deaths have been regularly addressed at the annual local EU-India Human Rights Dialogue and will again be brought up during the next Dialogue on 22 March 2012. She also says trade preferences "can be withdrawn in cases of ‘serious and systematic violations’ of principles laid down in the core international conventions on human, social and labour rights, on the basis of the conclusions of the international monitoring bodies."
This does not answer the pertinent question of Van Dalen if the Commission would be willing "to launch an investigation ... aimed at establishing whether there is actually proof of systematic human rights violations, and if so, to withdraw India’s trade preferences?"
See the full Q & A on the matter here: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/vr120228e.pdf.
Annual Report 2011 International Dalit Solidarity Network
The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) has published its Annual Report 2011. It describes the developments in caste-affected countries and the activities of IDSN at the level of the UN, the EU, European governments and the private sector. It also includes reports by coalitions in European countries, including a report on the work of the Dalit Network Netherlands (see page 32/33).
Some of the highlights of 2011 are:
• Hearing in the European Parliament on Caste Discrimination in South Asia
• Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability Act, prohibiting caste discrimination in public and private spheres, enacted in Nepal
• Conference on Decade of Dalit Rights UN, 2011-20: Decisive Decade against Discrimination based on Work and Descent, co-organized by IDSN
• UN and Independent experts’ meeting on strategies to eliminate caste-based discrimination
• Dalit human rights defenders meet with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay
• 100 Day Campaign Against Caste Discrimination and Untouchability launched by OHCHR-Nepal and the National Dalit Commission
• International Consultation on Good Practices and Strategies to Eliminate Caste-Based Discrimination and launch of Global Call for Action
See for the full report: http://dalits.nl/dnn_idsn_e.html.
IndiaNews - February 27, 2012
Shocking UN report on human rights defenders in India
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Ms. Margaret Sekaggya has released a report with a strong focus on the dire situation of Dalit human rights defenders, following her 2011 visit to India.
Ms. Margaret Sekaggya has devoted a sub-chapter of her report to stressing the unacceptable situation faced by Dalit human rights defenders due to threats and serious human rights abuses based on caste discrimination and failing systems of justice. “Dalits’ rights activists strive for the promotion and realization of Dalits’ civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The range of human rights violations they suffer is appalling,” writes the Special Rapporteur.
See the report (and an article about it) here: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/un-expert-deeply-disturbed-by-the-situation-of-dalit-human-rights-defenders-in-india/128/.
During the 19th session of the Human Rights Council, on 7th and 8th of March 2012, two side events will be held on the report. One is focussing on human rights defenders with regard to tribal and labour rights, the North-East of India, corporate accountability in Orissa and the situation of Dalits. The other one focuses on Dalit human rights defenders.
See for more information on the side events here: http://www.dalits.nl/side_events.html.
New report: Violence against Dalit women rarely punished
The Indian organization Navsarjan Trust, in collaboration with Minority Rights Group International, has recently released the study Gender-Violence and Access to Justice for the Dalit Woman. The report finds Dalit women face severe difficulties in accessing justice and are extremely vulnerable to violence, sexual abuse and other atrocities.
"If it is a crime to be born a woman in society, it is a bigger crime to be born a Dalit woman. This, at least, is what a study by human rights organisation, Navsarjan Trust, says. While women are normally considered to be vulnerable to atrocities, women belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) are more prone to various crimes. The study shows that it is more difficult for Dalits to get justice in the court of law for their traumatic sufferings. The study indicates that in the cases of violence by non-Dalits on Dalit women, no non-Dalit accused have been convicted so far, and in cases of violence by Dalits on Dalit women, there have been convictions only in six cases.
See the report (and an article about it) here: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/atrocities-on-dalit-women-go-unpunished-finds-new-study-from-navsarjan-trust/128/.
Dalit Network Netherlands and its advocacy
Do you want to know more about the work of the Dalit Network Netherlands (member of the International Dalit Solidarity Network), then please see this brochure:
On our recent work regarding the Dutch Parliament and Governments on Dalits, child labour and the EU-India Free Trade Agreement you find more information here: http://www.indianet.nl/q&motions.html.
ILO report Buried in Bricks: wide-spread (child) bonded labour in Afghan brick kilns
Bonded labour of adults and children in brick kilns is one of the most prevalent, yet least known forms of hazardous labour in Afghanistan says the ILO. A new ILO study on the phenomenon marks the first attempt to provide a better understanding of the dynamics of bonded labour in two provinces of the country. The majority of the workers in the brick kilns are children. You can find the report, a summary and an interview on the report here: http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/press-and-media-centre/insight/WCMS_172696/lang--en/index.htm.
Thijs Berman, Dutch member of the European Parliament and chair of the Afghanistan Delegation of the Parliament has asked the European Commission in written questions what they could contribute to change this situation. See: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/vr120220e.pdf.
IndiaNews - January 23, 2012
MV Foundation gets 1 million children into school
The campaign Stop Child Labour congratulates MV Foundation with her enormous success. Recently, this Indian organisation managed to get the 1 millionth child out of work and into school. And that is not the only reason for joy....
On Saturday January 21st, MV Foundation celebrated her 20th anniversary and the fact that 1 million children have been taken out of work and into school. During this celebration, hundreds of former child labourers, Indian ministers and various dignitaries met during a big manifestation in Hyderabad.
The key to MV Foundations' success is the area-based approach which involves eradicating all forms of child labour and creating Child Labour Free Zones, where children do not work but receive regular full-time education.
Read more here:
Report about the lobby & advocacy for Child Labour Free Zones
The campaign Stop Child Labour promotes the successful model of child labour free zones. It has organised field visits and exchange meetings to share information about experiences and learn from successful action on the ground.
In this endeavour MV Foundation has taken up the role of resource agency to provide technical guidance and on-the-job advice for local organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America that have been inspired and motivated to replicate the model in their own context.
Stop Child Labour, together with its partner Kids in Need in Uganda, organised an international workshop to strengthen the lobby and advocacy capacity of partner organisations to influence policies on the linked issues of child labour and education, and increase support for the creation of child labour free zones – both at national as well as international level. Campaign’s partner organisations in Morocco, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and Zimbabwe were the participants.
The report of the workshop can be found here: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/LobbyingAndAdvocacyForChildLabourFreeZones.pdf.
Questions European Parliament on Report Torture in India 2011
The report Torture in India 2011, recently published by the Asian Centre for Human Rights and co-financed by the European Commission, states that 14,231 persons died in police and judicial detention between 2001/2002 and 2009/2010. This figure is based on cases reported to the Indian National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). According to the report, the majority of cases are a direct consequence of torture during detention. Moreover, this only represents the tip of the iceberg given that most deaths resulting from torture are not reported to the NHRC. The NHRC also does not have any jurisdiction over the armed forces and does not register cases of torture which do not result in death.
Member of European Parliament Peter van Dalen raised a number of pertinent questions on the report and how it should also possibly effect the EU (trade) relations with India. He e.g. wants to know:
"Is the Commission prepared to raise this issue as part of the negotiations for an EU-India trade agreement and to make progress on this issue (including the adoption of an anti-torture law in accordance with UNCAT) a condition for the successful conclusion of the negotiations?"
The report Torture in India 2011 can be found here: http://www.indianet.nl/torture2011.html; and the parliamentary questions here: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/vr111221e.pdf.
Motions and questions in Dutch parliament on child labour, Dalits, EU-India free agreement, role of UN etc.
In December 2010 and June 2011 the Dutch Parliament adopted two motions on human rights in India.
The first motion concerned the sustainability and human rights clause in the EU-India free trade treaty about which the EU and India are presently negotiating. The Parliament requested Minister Rosenthal of Foreign Affairs:
"to exert its efforts in the European context for a robust sustainability chapter, in which among other things is being aimed at: the reduction of child labour, the improvement of the position of Dalits, the availability of medicines for HIV/AIDS and a dispute settlement mechanism; and not to be agree with strongly weakened compromise".
The second motion of June 2011 stated:
"that the around 250 million Dalits are victim of countless violations of fundamental human rights and that this group disproportionally suffers from violations of labour rights in supply-chains of Dutch companies including in garments, seeds and natural stone".
The Parliament has four specific requests to the Dutch government including raising the Dalit issue in EU and UN context, raising the issue as part of the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council; addressing companies with regard to their duty to combat caste discrimination and financial support to the International Dalit Solidarity Network.
In July 2011 Minister Rosenthal visited India after which he informed the press that he "had great confidence in the way the Indian government is actively tackling these issues (child labour, forced labour, non-discrimination etc.)".
Member of Parliament Mr. Voordewind of the ChristianUnion party has posed written questions to the government on 31 October 2011 on the implementation of the motions, the optimistic statements by Minister Rosenthal and about what the Netherlands is doing to promote fundamental labour rights and other human rights in India. After highly unsatisfactory answers to his 31 October questions, he raised another set of questions on 16 January 2012 focusing on the implementation of the motions. In one of his questions he expresses his doubt if the Minister is really willing to implement the ‘Dalit motion’ which he had promised to do after the adoption of the motion.
See for the text of both motions and the parliamentary questions and answers of the Minister: http://www.indianet.nl/q&motions.html.
IndiaNews - November 20, 2011
Precarious work in certified tea production for Unilever in
India and Kenya
A new report by SOMO and ICN reveals labour right violations in
Rainforest Alliance certified tea production for Unilever.
Workers picking tea for Unilever in India and Kenya are subject to
precarious working conditions and labor rights violations, even though
this tea carries the Rainforest Alliance certificate. This is an important
finding from the report Certified Unilever Tea - Small cup, big
that SOMO and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) have
Tea pickers on Unilever's own plantation in Kenya suffer from corruption
sexual harassment by blackmailing supervisors, as well as from poor
and discrimination. Also, many workers complained that the company
systematically deprives them of a permanent contract with better benefits
through the practice of firing employees for a minimum period of one month
then rehiring them.
For workers at Unilever tea suppliers in India the situation is no better.
the RA label, there are problems regarding payment of the minimum wage,
discrimination, substandard plantation facilities (e.g. housing and
the unprotected application of pesticides. As in Kenya, many plantation
at these Indian tea suppliers are denied a permanent contract while
most of the year and for years on end. The trade union situation is also
problematic. The work of more progressive trade unions is frustrated in
numerous ways, which undermines the workers interests.
See the rest of the press release: http://www.indianet.nl/pb111031e.html.
You can find the report here: http://www.indianet.nl/CertifiedUnileverTea.html.
IndiaNews - October 6, 2011
In this edition of IndiaNews you will find articles and reports on labour rights in India, Dalits &
caste-based discrimination and access to justice in India for victims of corporate abuses.
As member of the Stop Child Labour campaign we are also informing you about the 10 Campaign about the, despite clear promises, corporate failure of the last decade to eradicate child labour in the African cocoa industry. Do you have information about growing cocoa production in India (see end of this newletter)?
International Trade Unions very critical on core labour rights in India
The ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) recently released a report on core labour standards in India. India has ratified only four core ILO labour Conventions and the compliance with these labour standards is poor. The report finds that the rights to organise, collective bargaining and strike are restricted both in law and in
practice and that thousands of detentions and arrests are reported every year. The report reveals also that the situation is graver in Export Processing Zones, where organising is even more difficult.
The law does not sufficiently protect children from forms of labour that are illegal under Conventions No. 138 and No. 182. The report finds that these laws are not well-enforced and child labour, including its worst forms, is prevalent throughout India. Furthermore, forced labour and trafficking in human beings are prevalent in agriculture,
mining and commercial sexual exploitation. Several important references to Dalits and caste discrimination are
included in the report. See the report here: http://www.ituc-csi.org/internationally-recognised-core,9698.html. See the references to caste discrimination here: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/ituc-report-highligh
New Report ICJ - Access to Justice: Human Rights Abuses Involving Corporations in India
This well-researched report by the International Commission of Justice (ICJ) aims to critically examine legal remedies, both judicial and non-judicial, available under Indian law to victims of human rights abuses by companies. There are three main objectives of this examination:
(i) to assess the efficacy of the existing regulatory framework;
(ii) to identify major obstacles that victims experience in holding companies accountable for breaching
their human rights obligations; and
(iii) to outline recommendations that should help in
overcoming these obstacles.
The report refers also to the following companies: Enron, Coca
Cola, ICICI Bank, PepsiCo, POSCO, Tata, Union Carbide and Vedanta Resources. See the report here:
See an article in The Hindu Business Line here: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/article2476734.ece?homepage=true.
New articles on website Dalit Network Netherlands (and IDSN)
The website http://www.dalits.nl/english.html contains many new articles on caste-based discrimination in e.g. Pakistan, India and the United Kingdom. Many of them and more can also be found on http://idsn.org. Have e.g. a look at:
* Caste-based slavery in the mining sector highlighted in UN debate (http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/caste-based-slavery-in-the-mining-sector-highlighted-in-un-debate/128/)
* Pakistan´s Dalits denied flood relief because of caste discrimination (http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/pakistans-dalits-denied-flood-relief-because-of-caste-discrimination/128/)
* Microcredit Pitfalls: The Experience Of Dalit Women In India (http://awid.org/News-Analysis/Friday-Files/Microcredit-Pitfalls-The-Experience-of-Dalit-Women-in-India)
* UN Committee: Caste discrimination in the UK should be outlawed (http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/un-committee-caste-discrimination-in-the-uk-should-be-outlawed/128/)
Support the 10 Campaign against child labour in the cocoa industry
Ten years ago the global chocolate industry signed the Harkin-Engel Protocol, a six-point roadmap that was to enable the elimination of the worst forms of child Labour in the cocoa sector of Ivory Coast and Ghana. However, according to Tulane University, none of the Protocol´s six articles calling for action were fully implemented, and the required industry-wide reform in the cocoa sector has not taken place. Tulane also documented the
systemic nature of the problem: an estimated 1.8 million children are working in the cocoa sector of Ivory
Coast and Ghana.
Civil society organisations and trade unions working throughout the world on ethical cocoa, including the Stop Child Labour campaign, have joined to speak with one voice on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Protocol. Together they call on national and international legislative bodies to implement legislation to ensure that companies get the task done. Core asks are to implement legislation that ensure that companies
have their supply chains audited by an independent 3rd party, to oblige companies to publically disclose what their efforts are to eradicate the abuses, and the implementation of an independent oversight body that reports on progress.
You can read more about and support the campaign here:
By the way: cocoa production in India is growing and Kraft/Cadbury are expanding their production. We would greatly appreciate more information about this development from any person or organization with expertise on the matter.
IndiaNews - September 23, 2011
100 Day Campaign against caste discrimination and untouchability launched in NepalVideo message High Commissioner Navi Pillay: http://www.youtube.com/embed/72U7Vg5ZKO8?hl=en&FS=1.
"I commit to end caste-based discrimination and untouchability!", said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in her video message, kicking off the bold 100 Day Campaign launched by her office and the National Dalit Commission (NDC) in Nepal.
The High Commissioner is encouraging everyone to pledge their commitment to end caste discrimination* and untouchability and the campaign website is collecting pledges and turning them into colourful fingerprints
symbolising all those who are against this atrocious type of discrimination.
The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) has been working to end caste discrimination for more than a decade and wholeheartedly welcomes this new campaign. "The campaign is a fantastic initiative and we would like to encourage everyone to go to the website and register their commitment to help end one of the biggest human
rights issues the world is facing today," says IDSN Coordinator, Rikke Nöhrlind.
While the campaign is primarily focused on Nepal, IDSN would like to encourage the global community, Dalits and human rights defenders in other caste affected countries to take this opportunity to pledge their support to a cause that can help 260 million people affected by caste discrimination worldwide out of oppression.
IDSN would also like to encourage political leaders, business leaders and influential decision makers from across the globe to speak out against caste discrimination and to go to the campaign website and make their pledge to end caste discrimination.
The President of Nepal, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, has led the way by inaugurating the campaign, giving his commitment and commenting that, "It is a matter of shame to know that people in the 21st century are still practising caste discrimination and untouchablility."
The government of Nepal recently introduced Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability (Offence and Punishment) Act, 2011. NDC and OHCHR partnered in 2008 to jointly advocate for the swift passage of the draft caste-based discrimination and untouchability bill and for its compliance with international standards.
"By taking this important step to end these practices, Nepal has become a leader on the world stage in the fight against caste-based discrimination," said Ms. Pillay in her speech commending the role Nepal has taken in this global struggle.
Various awareness-raising programs like audio-visual activities, distribution of posters and pamphlets and interaction programs among others will be organised country-wide throughout the 100 days campaign till it comes to an end on 24 December 2011.
Visit the campaign website and make you pledge against
Download the High Commissioner´s statement as a PDF:
Learn more about caste discrimination: http://idsn.org/caste-discrimination/.
Visit the IDSN website: http://www.idsn.org/.
Visit the website of the Dalit Network Netherlands: http://dalits.nl/english.html.
* Caste discrimination subjects those at the bottom of the caste system,
known as Dalits or
`untouchables´, to horrific acts of repression and violence and forces
them to live in apartheid
style segregation from the rest of society, severely impairing equal
rights in access to work,
education and basic services such as water, sanitation and healthcare.
There are 260 million
Dalits globally, with the majority living in South Asia.
IndiaNews - August 3, 2011
In this IndiaNews a lot of interesting (links to) stories and documents on Dalits and caste-based discrimination, child labour and the threat to internet freedom in India.
Conference: Decisive Decade against Discrimination based on Work and Descent
The Conference Decisive Decade against Discrimination based on Work and Descent (2011-2020) was held in Geneva on June 24-25, 2011. It was organised by a group of organisations including the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights in India (NCDHR), the International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), the
International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), and other national and international organisations. The purpose of
the conference was to review past interventions, mainly at the UN, and to chalk out effective future strategies required for national and international interventions in the next decade (2011-2020). Participating in the conference were about 50 people from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Japan, and Europe. More information on the Conference, its Declaration, a speech on behalf of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and a Report on the Conference can be found here: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/conference-on-dalit-rights-the-un/128/.
Interview with Dalit women activist Ruth Manorama
"Ruth Manorama started her work with the urban poor in her youth; there has been no turning back ever since. She is the powerful voice of Dalit women today." This is the intro of an interesting interview with Ruth in India´s reputed newspaper The Hindu: http://www.thehindu.com/arts/magazine/article2284501.ece.
The ILO and Manual Scavengers in India
The ILO is working with the Government and social partners in India to address the discrimination of Dalits in five states. The main objective is to support the government´s efforts to improve the effectiveness of legislation and policies on the issue of manual scavenging, and to include the scavenging community itself in that process.
According to Coen Kompier, an ILO specialist in labour standards working for the ILO office in New Delhi, "rehabilitation of manual scavengers depends on building the confidence of that community, but also on breaking definitively the caste stigma manual scavengers suffer from. Through our project activities we are therefore exploring ways to make rehabilitation effective and genuine, giving scavengers a true voice in choosing their profession or occupation." More information:
Interview: Dutch Parliament urges end to caste-discrimination
In the last IndiaNews you were informed about the resolution that Dutch Parliament adopted a motion to urge the Dutch government to be active in e.g. in the EU and the UN and with regard to the corporate sector to work on appropriate policies and measures to help combat caste-based discrimination. The website of Radio Netherlands Worldservice had an interview with the co-ordinator of the Dalit Network Netherlands, on this issue. See:
Education International's resolution on child labour
The 6th World Congress of Education International meeting in South Africa, adopted an important resolution on combating child labour. One of the recommendations, which is modelled on the experience of the Indian MV Foundation and campaigned for by the Stop Child Labour campaign, is: `creation of forms of intensive bridging education that enable children who missed the entry into 1st grade according to their age to catch up with their peers and be mainstreamed into full-time formal education´. This is going to be one of the strategic
areas of work of Education International. See the full resolution here: http://aob.nl/doc/resolutieeicongres.pdf.
Internet freedom in India at stake
As we wrote to you in May: "On the 11th of April the Indian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has issued the 'Information Technology Rules, 2011' restricting web content that can e.g. be considered 'dispaging', 'harassing', 'blasphemous' or 'hateful'. It also includes anything that 'threatens the unity, integrity, defense, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign countries or public order'." Anybody can interpret this as he/she likes likes and require websites, but also Facebook, YouTube etc. to take down such 'offensive content' with in 36 hours. There is no mechanism to defend your webcontent or appeal a decision to take content down. In the meantime there are facts that the Indian government itself is indeed blocking more internet content. See: http://southasia.oneworld.net/todaysheadlines/indian-government-asked-to-block-critical-content-from-google.
In a recent article in The Washington Post also other Indians, including Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekhar, voice strong criticism of the new internet rules. See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/indias-new-internet-rules-criticized/2011/07/27/gIQA1zS2mI_story.html.
IndiaNews - July 5, 2011
Large majority in Dutch Parliament supports motion to combat caste discrimination
On the 30th of June the Dutch Parliament adopted a motion requesting the Minister of Foreign Affairs to continue an active approach to combat caste-based discrimination and improving the position of the roughly 250 million Dalits (so-called `outcastes´) in South Asian countries like India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. An almost two-third majority of Dutch Parliament (95 out of 150 members) of the opposition parties like the Social Democrats, the Christian Union, the GreenLeft Party, the Socialist Party as well as the ruling Christian Democrats, supported the motion. The Dutch Minister of Foreign affairs, Dr. U. Rosenthal, said that he can take the four specific requests in the motion into his policy. Read the press release of Dalit Network Netherlands (DNN) and the text of the
motion here: http://www.dalits.nl/pdf/pb110701e.pdf.
Motion on EU-India Free Trade ageement, child labour and Dalits
In December 2010 the Dutch also adopted a motion on the EU-India Free Trade Agreement specifically which said: "request the government to exert its efforts in the European context for a robust sustainability chapter, in which among other things is being aimed at: the reduction of child labour, the improvement of the position of Dalits, the availability of medicines for HIV/AIDS and a dispute settlement mechanism; and not to be agree with
strongly weakened compromise". See the full text: http://www.dalits.nl/pdf/m101215e.pdf.
End of Free Speech? - Online Control in India
Director of the India Committee of the Netherlands, Gerard Oonk, has given an interview to IndoDutchConnect.com on the threat to free speech that is the result of the new Indian Information Technology Rules 2011. Oonk: "The consequences [of these new Rules] will be that not only the government but everybody can ask for certain web content to be taken down by using their own interpretation of the present criteria which are extremely general and broad. Criteria such as 'disparaging', 'hateful', 'harassing' and even 'blasphemous' can be interpreted very
differently by different people. Also criteria such as 'web content that is potentially damaging to the relations with other countries' is so broad, that it can apply to anything critical being written about those countries."
See the full interview here: http://www.indianet.nl/a110616.html.
Impact of report Captured by Cotton
Politicians and the business community see the need to tackle the clothing industry The report Captured by Cotton by SOMO and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) was recently published, looking at South Indian girls and young women who are making our clothing in wretched conditions. This evoked responses from businesses and politicians, and was given a great deal of media coverage. Read more about the follow-up of the report here: http://somo.nl/news-en/exploitation-in-indian-clothing-industry/. The report itself and a number of articles published on it (including in The Hindu) in India major newspapers can be found here: http://www.indianet.nl/captured-by-cotton.html.
Four years after punishing lockout, Unilever Assam workers still waiting for their union to be recognized
An account of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF): Business is doing well at Unilever´s personal products factory at Doom Dooma in the Indian state of Assam. But nearly 4 years after management tried to destroy the union with a punishing 6-week lockout, and almost one year since the IUF and Unilever formally concluded an agreement to settle the dispute under the auspices of the UK government, the
workers are still waiting for their union to be recognized as their collective bargaining agent. The workers´ mood is one of deepening frustration. How has this happened? Read the full story here: http://cms.iuf.org/?q=node/951.
Eyewitness Account: Child Labor in North India´s Hand-Woven Carpet Sector
"The carpet belt of North India stretches across the state of Uttar Pradesh from the town of Allahabad, east to Bhadohi, ending in the rural reaches beyond Varanasi. I have visited this area several times across the last decade, and despite recent pronouncements by the government of India that child labour no longer exists in the country´s hand-woven carpet sector, there are still innumerable shacks and village huts in this area in which children as young as 10 years of age are coerced to work 16 or more hours a day weaving carpets for export to Europe and North America." Read the full story here: http://www.goodweave.org/index.php?cid=125.
IndiaNews - May 2, 2011
New Rules: India Puts Tight Leash on Internet Free Speech
This is to draw your attention to and get your comments about the 'tight leash' that the Indian government has put on internet content. On the 11th of April the India Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (Department of Information Technology) has issued the Information Technology Rules, 2011, restricting web content that can e.g. be considered 'dispaging', 'harassing', 'blasphemous' or 'hateful'. It also includes anything that 'threatens the unity, integrity, defense, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign countries or public order'. Anybody can interpret this to its liking and require internet intermediates - websites, but also Facebook, YouTube etc. to take down such 'offensive content' with in 36 hours. There is no mechanism to defend your webcontent or appeal a decision to take content down.
Several Indian media have written about these rules. A somewhat longer article on the issue, including the protests of Indian critics like the People's Union for Civil Liberties and the Centre for Internet and Society, has been published on April 27th 2011 in The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/technology/28internet.html?partner=rss&emc=rss.
A more detailed technical article , which includes a link to the new rules, can be found on this website: http://www.medianama.com/2011/04/223-indias-internet-control-rules-finalized-blasphemy/.
It is our strong concern that these Information and Technology Rules are a threat to human rights and to human rights defenders. Your comments, suggestions etc. would be highly appreciated.
IndiaNews - March 8, 2011
Another day, another rape
On International Women´s Day we are sending you the shocking article Another day, another rape by well-known journalist Mari Thekaekara. It gives a personal insight into the cruel pattern of rapes of Dalit girls and women in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The article is part of a series with a focus on Dalit girls and women which are published on http://www.dalits.nl. The article(s) can be found here: http://www.dalits.nl/marithekaekara_e.html.
Petition to Monsanto: Stop Use of Child Labour in Cottonseed Production in India
The Indian organization Prayas Centre for Labour Research and Action together with US-based website change.org for online activism launched a petition to demand from Monsanto to stop child labour at its suppliers but also pay them more so they can hire adults against living wages. They also demand opening up production areas to civil society organization so they can monitor child labour and other abuses. We encourage you to sign the petition. You can find it here: http://www.indianet.nl/petition-monsanto.html.
Hearing on Dalits in the European Parliament
On the 28th of February 2011, a hearing on caste-based discrimination took place in the European Parliament. Representatives of the Indian non-governmental organization Navsarjan and the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) were the main speakers. Some members of the European Parliament denounced caste-based discrimination in strong wording and asked for more action against it. Read the press release of IDSN:
Annual Report 2010 of the International Dalit Solidarity Network
The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), of which the Dalit Network Netherlands is a member, has just published its very informative Annual Report 2010. In the Annual Report you will also find a chapter on the work and results of the Dalit Network Netherlands in 2010. You can find it here: http://www.dalits.nl/idsn.html.
IndiaNews - January 24, 2011
The website of the Dalit Network Network Netherlands, http://www.dalits.nl, contains a lot of new interesting information, including:
* The first article of a series by well known journalist and media campaigner Mari Marcel Thekaekara on the situation of Dalits, and Dalit women and girls in particular. The first article is on the success of the national campaign on manual scavenging by the Safai Karamchari Andolan: http://www.dalits.nl/marithekaekara.html;
* The preliminary observations and recommendations of UN Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya on the situation of human rights defenders in India after concluding her recent visit to India. See: http://www.dalits.nl/110124e.html. The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) has all the references by UN Special Procedures between 2005 and 2010 combined on its website. See: http://idsn.org/fileadmin/user_folder/pdf/New_files/UN/UNSP_2005-2010_Feb.pdf;
* The brochure End Caste Discrimination - Support the Dalits on the work of the Dalit Network Netherlands. See: http://www.dalits.nl/pdf/EndCasteDiscrimination.pdf.
EU-India FTA, child labour & Dalits
In December 2010 the Dutch parliament adopted a motion on the EU-India Free Trade Agreement and how to make sure it does not have a negative effect on e.g. children´s rights, the position of Dalits and access to cheap medicines. See: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/m101215e.pdf.
Tata Group: repression of West Bengal Tea Workers
Tea workers on the Nowera Nuddy Tea Estate in West Bengal, India have launched a new stage in their struggle for rights and justice. When workers protested over the treatment of a tea plucker in an advanced stage of pregnancy who was denied maternity leave and forced to work, management tried to starve them into submission by denying all wages and rations for 3 months. The IUF (Uniting food, farm and hotel workers world-wide) has taken up the issue.
You can support their struggle by sending a message to Tata/Tetley - the power behind local management - telling them to meet the workers´ demands NOW! See: http://www.iuf.org/cgi-bin/campaigns/show_campaign.cgi?c=55.
Action Plan for Companies: Out of Work - Into School
Did you ever take a look at the Out of Work - Into School: Action Plan for Companies to Combat Child Labour? You can download it here: http://www.indianet.nl/actionplanchildlabour.html. We can also send you one or more hard copies.
IndiaNews - November 22, 2010
It has been some time ago since you received news from the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) via the IndiaNews mailing list. This is not because nothing happened, but because there were too many other issues to attend to. We plan to send you this news from now on more frequently, around every two weeks or so. The newsletter
mainly focuses on issues of child labour & education, corporate accountability and caste discrimination in South
Asia. But we will also inform you about related global, thematic or regional issues.
Path-breaking reports: No Child labour - Better Wages
Together with the federation of Dutch Trade Unions the India Committee of the Netherlands has published the path-breaking report No Child Labour - Better Wages. It shows that eradicating child labour, while already being very positive itself, can also make a big contribution to much better wages for agricultural labourers. Although the sample of the study is small it reinforces the experience of e.g. the MV Foundation in Andhra
Pradesh that ending child labour leads to better wages. It has also decreased the dependency of agricultural
labourers on the landowners. See: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/NoChildLabourBetterWages.pdf.
This study is also published as part of a larger study on child labour and decent work which has four other cases from India on this issue showing, among other things, how unions can increase their membership and strength if they engage in fighting child labour. This report is called Let Parents Earn and Children Learn:
Former manual scavengers demand total eradication and rehabilitation: `Government should apologise to us´
Around 1,000 Safai Karamcharis from 20 states, who were until recently engaged in the outlawed practice of manual scavenging, assembled in Delhi on the 1st of November 2010 and resolved to return to Delhi on 1 January 2011 if their demands were not met. "We are giving the government time to announce a special package for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers," said Bezwada Wilson, national convenor of the Safai Karamchari Andolan. Read more about this extraordinary movement here: http://www.dalits.nl/manualscavenging.html.
Dalit Network Netherlands (DNN)
Do you want to know what the Dalit Network Netherlands (DNN) - a member of the International Dalit Solidarity Network - stands for and what it does, you can find this information here: http://www.dalits.nl/pdf/EndCasteDiscrimination.pdf. Please let us know if you would like to receive a number of hard copies. We will send them to you free of costs.
Guiding Principles Human Rights and Transnational Companies
UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights John Ruggie has published his draft Guiding Principles for the implementation of the United Nations `Protect, Respect and Remedy´ Framework. The draft Guiding Principles are open for public review and comment until 31 January 2011. The draft Guiding Principles and press release are
available here: http://www.business-humanrights.org/Links/Repository/1003306. Comments can be sent via Professor Ruggie´s online consultation forum: http://www.srsgconsultation.org.
The Guiding Principles elaborate and clarify for companies, states, and other stakeholders how they can operationalize the UN `Protect, Respect and Remedy´ Framework, by taking practical steps to address business impacts on the human rights of individuals. The UN Human Rights Council had asked Ruggie to provide this additional concrete guidance [to be presented formally to the Human Rights Council at its June session].
Rights for People, Rules for Business
Under this slogan the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) is conducting a petition campaign. We call on you to hold companies operating in the EU legally accountable for any harm they cause to people and the environment around the world. They must disclose accurate information about their activities. Victims should face
no barriers in accessing justice in the EU. The campaign is directed to the heads of state of the European
Union and to the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. Please sign at: http://www.indianet.nl/petition_rightsforpeople.html.
ISO 26000: Guidance on Social Responsibily
The ISO Guidance Standard for Social Responsibility of organizations has been officially launched on the 1st of November. The national ISO members have approved of the Standard with 93% of the votes in favour. India was one of the few countries voting against it, while China voted yes. The standard is unique for `translating´ international
human rights, labour and environmental standards for organizations, but also for firmly establishing principles like
accountability, transparency, ethical behaviour and stakeholder engagement. This has been done in a process of almost six years involving stakeholders groups from governments, NGOs, unions, employers, consumer organizations and a group of academics, consultants etc. Developing countries were strongly represented. It is expected that,
though this standard is not certifiable, it will have a profound influence on the discourse and practice of
organizational accountability and social responsibility. Unfortunately the standard is not freely available but a lot of information can be found here: http://www.iso.org/iso/social_responsibility.
IndiaNews - June 4, 2010
Successful petition presented at Global Child labour Conference
Over the last two months we have asked your support for the petition Stop Child labour - Every Child to School. A big thanks to everyone of you who made this petition a success! During the Global Child labour Conference on the 10th of May Mr. Venkat Reddy, co-ordinator of the Indian NGO MV Foundation together with the chairperson of the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions, Mrs. Agnes Jongerius, presented more than 12.000 signatures to the chairperson of the Conference, Minister Piet Hein Donner of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of The Netherlands. See also conference website: http://www.childlabourconference2010.com/.
At the Conference a Roadmap for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour was adopted after long negotiations of country representatives, trade unions, employers organizations and NGOs. An important result of
the petition, in which we argued for a global policy to eliminate all forms of child labour (and not only the worst forms), is the following statement in the Preamble of the Roadmap: "Considering that action to eliminate the worst forms of child labour is most effective and sustainable when it is situated within action to eliminate all
child labour, including through area-based and sector-based programmes". The full Roadmap can be found here:
Mining and its effects on children, women, Adivasi and Dalits
Reports recently released by Indian NGOs reveal the desperate situation for children and adults living and working in mining areas in India. Among them Dalits, Adivasi and women are the main victims. The report India's Childhood in the "Pits" published by HAQ, SAMATA and mines, minerals and People (mmP) shows that districts that are entirely dependent on mining have a lower literacy rate than the national average. The mortality rate of children under five years of age is higher. Child labour is rampant. GRAVIS has released the report Women Miners in Rajasthan, India. The report explores the harsh everyday life and work of female quarry workers in Rajasthan. An article on these two reports and the reports themselves can be found here: http://www.dalits.nl/pdf/MiningAndItsEffectOnChildren.pdf.
Action Plan for Companies Against Child labour presented to Dutch Foreign Minister
On the 26 of May FNV chair Agnes Jongerius en ICN director Gerard Oonk presented the Dutch version of the Action Plan for Companies to Combat Child Labour to the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Maxime Verhagen. The Minister wrote a preface to this Dutch edition in which he urges companies to use the Action Plan in a step-by-step approach to eradicate child labour in their supply-chains. The presentation of the Action Plan
took place in the store of high-end garment retailer McGregor in Amsterdam, one of the members of the FairWear Foundation. The FairWear Foundation is a multi-stakeholder initiative of around 50 companies, unions and NGOs that
co-operate to improve working conditions in the global garment industry and also try to eradicate child labour. The Minister interviewed participants in the FairWear Foundation on how they tackled child labour in their production chain. You can find the Action Plan here: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/actionplanchildlabour.pdf.
ISO 26000: new international Guidance Standard for Social Responsibility of Organizations
As representative of the Dutch CSR Platform (consisting of 35 organizations in the field of development, human rights, environment, fair trade as well as the two Dutch trade union federations) the director of ICN was closely
involved in the development of an international Guidance Standard for the Social Responsibility of organizations, a project of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
In May 2010 the Guidance Standard was finalized during a working conference in Copenhagen. It now has to be voted on by the National Standard Bodies that are members of ISO. A large number of developing countries, not only their governments but also their NGOs, unions, consumer organizations and employer's organizations, were closely involved in the five year process of developing the standard. Some crucial issues for ICN like human rights, labour rights, child labour and caste-based discrimination are also adequately reflected in the document. Please find the ISO press release on ISO 26000 here: http://www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1321.
The unedited final version of the ISO 26000 Guidance Standard for Social Responsibility can (still) be found on http://www.iso.org/wgsr (see: Meeting 8 - Copenhagen: N191 ISO 26000 Revised Draft 21 May).
IndiaNews - March 5, 2010
In this issue of IndiaNews you will find information on recent developments and reports on both the issues of child labour & eduction and caste-based discrimination.
Child labour and education
On 5 November 2009 the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized an expert seminar on child labour, education and the role of donors. The report of the meeting, Eliminating Child Labour - The role of bilateral donors, including a concluding statement by the participants and a reaction by the Minister, has now been published. You can find it here: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/EliminatingChildLabourThroughEducation.pdf.
Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO) International has published a new position paper on child labour which can be found here: http://www.fairtrade.net/fileadmin/user_upload/content/2009/about_fairtrade/Child_Labour_position_paper_FLO.pdf.
Dalits and human rights
The International Dalit Solidarity Network has just published its very informative Annual Report 2009. See: http://www.dalits.nl/idsn.html. On the same page you can also find IDSN's annual reports since 2004.
The day before yesterday the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs has devoted a substantial paragraph in his speech to the Human Rights Council to the issue of work and descent/caste-based discrimnation. He quoted the UN High Commissioner's for Human Rights, Mrs. Pillay, earlier statements and spoke in favour of the UN Principles and
Guidelines on Discrimination Based on Work and Descent. An article on the speech and reaction by the Dalit Network Netherlands can be found here: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/dutch-back-un-measures-on-caste/128/.
IndiaNews - February 5, 2010
We would like to draw your attention to two important reports that have
recently been published.
Combating Child Labour
The first is a study by the European Commission, mandated by the European member states (the Council) called Combating Child Labour. Its gives an overview of areas where the EU has possibilities to be active against child labour in the world. These areas incude:
- development co-operation e.g. on education,
- human rights dialogues,
- trade policy,
- public procurement,
- corporate social responsibility.
At the end the European Commission raises a number of policy questions to be answered by the European institutions, the member states and other 'stakeholders'. The campaign Stop Child Labour - School is the best place to work plans to react to these questions. You or your organization could of course do the same ánd/or or
send us your remarks which we can take into account formullating our answers. You can find the report here:
A ground-breaking study, Understanding Untouchability, on caste discrimination in the Indian state of Gujarat shows that the practice of 'untouchability' is still widely prevalent. The report also makes clear that the Indian state fails to address the issue. The report lists 98 forms of untouchability by non-Dalits against Dalits but also points out the discrimination between Dalit sub-castes. The report while being rigorously scientific is also a call to action. See: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/untouchability-still-rife-in-modern-india/128.
IndiaNews - October 30, 2009
Address caste discrimination in the private sector
Do you want to know more about how caste discrimination affects around 260 million Dalits in the private sector in India and elsewhere? But also how companies can address this issue or what e.g. unions, NGOs and academics can tell them to do? Then have a look at the background information in Outlook Business India, the (revised) Ambedkar Principles and Guidelines to Address Caste Discrimination in the Private Sector and the Dalit Discrimination Check for companies: http://www.dalits.nl/dnn_bedrijven_e.html.
Union Victory Pakistan in Unilever Casual-T Campaign
A settlement between Unilever and the International Union of Food Workers (IUF) has led to a settlement of the conflict over precarious work at Lipton, Pakistan. A negotiated settlement between Unilever and the IUF has
resolved the long, difficult conflict over the rights of precarious workers at the company's directly-owned Lipton/Brooke Bond tea factory in Khanewal, Pakistan. The negotiations took place under the auspices of the UK's
National Contact Point responsible for the application of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. From the press release of IUF: "The Khanewal workers' Action Committee has warmly thanked the many trade unionists and human rights defenders around the world who supported their struggle with demonstrations, messages to the company, meetings, pickets, political action and other ways of expressing solidarity. Their support was crucial." See:
The Elimination of Child Labour: What role can the European Parliament Play?
Report of a meeting held in the European Parliament organized by the Stop Child Labour campaign and hosted by Mrs. Jean Lambert, Member of the European Parliament for the Green Party: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/RoleEuropeanParliament.pdf.
MakeITFair: NOKIA should become the trailblazer
Nokia is asked to become the trailblazer in developing more ethical mobile phones by the Finnish MakeITFair campaign. The petition has over 5,000 signatures already, but there is still time to add yours before it is
handed over to Nokia on 13 November. Act now and help us get our voices heard: http://www.makeitfair.fi/petition.
The manufacture of consumer electronics creates many problems that are shared across the industry. Nokia is the largest mobile phone company in the world, so we the undersigned want Nokia to take the lead in improving
conditions in its supply chain. We therefore demand that:
* Nokia trace the minerals in its products to individual mines in
conjunction with other manufacturers. Given that mineral trading
contributes to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nokia
should use its influence to contribute towards bringing peace to the
* Nokia adopt an ethical code based on multi-stakeholder participation
and external auditing through its supply chain, cooperate with the
international free trade union movement and begin negotiations for a
global framework agreement.
* Nokia provide full public disclosure of its supply chain.
Reset: Clear guidance on CSR for the global electronics sector
The publication Reset offers guidance to companies in addressing human rights and environmental issues in the global electronics supply chain. Reset argues for a more serious involvement of civil society organisations, trade unions in the first place. This is one of the key points of the publication released today by the Dutch CSR Platform and the GoodElectronics network. The publication gives an analytical review of the failing effectiveness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts in the global electronics sector. It provides a sample of progressive initiatives and recommended steps for companies to enhance their social and environmental performance. See for more information and the report and the report itself: http://mvoplatform.nl/publications-en/Publication_3248.
IndiaNews - September 1, 2009
Below you will find news on the issues of child labour and education, labour rights and corporate accountability as well as caste discrimination. These are the main issues that the India Committee of the Netherlands working on
in its advocacy and campaigning.
Child labour in cottonseed production
ICN has for many years been undertaking research and campaigning with organizations in India and other countries against the massive child labour in the cottonseed industry in India. See all information on this issue here:
Organizations like MV Foundation in Andhra Pradesh and Dakshini Rajasthan Mazdoor Union (DRMU) have been very active on this issue and have achieved some results. The issue was also taken up actively by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights.
The problem is however far from over as becomes clear from an article in The Times of India of 28th of August which contains shocking information on death, rape and sexual abuse of children working in the cottonseed fields. In the article DRMU indicates that again during the last month around 1.5 lakh (150,000) mainly tribal children have been trafficked from Rajasthan to north Gujarat to work on cotton seed farms! See the article Life's cheap in the BT cotton fields of Gujarat: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-4943263,prtpage-1.cms.
Infocus, newsletter of NCPCR
In its latest newsletter also the NCPCR writes an article on child labour migration to the cotton seed farms in Gujarat. It gives an account of what the NCPCR has been undertaking so far. The newsletter also informs us a.o.
about the Delhi Action Plan to Abolish Child labour, the needs of tribal children, action against girl child labour and guidelines to stop corporal punishment in schools. The latest Infocus and other information from the NCPCR can be found here: http://ncpcr.gov.in/index.htm and http://www.indianet.nl/infocus.html.
Unilever: Adding Insecurity to life
In June we sent you the link to a critical report on Unilever´s activities in a number of countries, with a strong focus on South Asia. The report was written in the form of an erratum to the original Unilever report and called:
Erratum Annual Reports and Accounts: Adding Insecurity to Life. The report can be found here:
Unilever reacted quite elaborately to the report while a rejoinder to that was given by the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions FNV, also in co-operation with ICN. Unilever admits the 'casualisation' of a large part of its
workforce but mainly denies, but not convincingly, all the other information about violation of labour rights. You can find all the documents here: http://www.business-humanrights.org/Documents/Unileverreport.
The latest news documenting the attacks on rights activists at Unilever's Lipton plant at Khanewal, Pakistan can be found here: http://www.iuf.org/den6111. Act now and support Pakistan Unilever workers: http://www.casualtea.org.
New report on Bangalore´s garment industry: Richer Bosses, Poorer Workers: Bangalore´s Garment Industry
India´s garment industry has been rapidly growing the last few years. The growth of the garment sector however, did not go hand in hand with an improvement of working conditions for the garment workers. In contrast, the
increase in orders from retailers all over the world led to rising daily production targets for garment workers causing increasing and often unpaid overtime work, high work pressure, verbal abuse and harassment by supervisors. Unions are generally absent. Large companies like Wal-Mart, Tesco en Marks & Spencer have been benefiting.
That is the conclusion of a research undertaken by the Indian civil society organization CIVIDEP and published by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO). The report, Richer Bosses, Poorer Workers: Bangalore´s Garment Industry, can the found here: http://somo.nl/news-en/indian-garment-workers-face-harsh-working-conditions/.
The European Commission conducted a 3 day regional workshop on Indigenous people, Minorities and Dalits in Dhaka, 15-17 June, 2009. IDSN was commissioned to present a study on caste-based discrimination in the South Asia at the workshop, which also included country specific contributions by Dalit experts from Nepal, Bangladesh and India. The 22 participants from EC delegations across the region and bilateral agencies in Bangladesh, visited Dalit communities in Dhaka accompanied by the head of the European Delegation, Stefan Frowein. See for more information and the study: http://idsn.org/news-resources/idsn-news/read/article/the-european-commission-takes-up-the-fight-against-caste-discrimination/.
For more information about Dalits in South, similarly discriminated minorities in Africa and the fight at the global level for theelimination ofcaste discrimination and similar forms of discrimination based on work and
descent, please see http://www.idsn.org. On the homepage you can also subscribe to the monthly newsletter.