. . . . . . "Dalit Solidarity News" is an information project run by the International Dalit Solidarity Network. News stories are extracts from online newsservices. Link to the full story is found at the end of each blog. Visit the International Dalit Solidarity Network at www.idsn.org

<< current

Formed in 2000, the IDSN is a network of international organisations, national solidarity networks and affected country groups, campaigning against caste-based discrimination throughout the world, from the dalits of South Asia to the Osu of Nigeria and the Burakumin of Japan. Visit our website International Dalit Solidarity Network for more information. SUBMIT DALIT NEWS HERE

Friday, October 06, 2006  
India: Child Labor Law Welcomed, But Needs Enforcing

Reuters News AlertNet
06 Oct 2006

Source: Human Rights Watch

The Indian government has taken a step forward by enacting a law to ban domestic work and some other forms of labor by children under age 14, Human Rights Watch said today. The law goes into effect on October 10, but to be effective, the Indian authorities will need to improve upon their weak enforcement of existing child labor protections. The new law covers restaurant and hotel work as well as domestic labor. However, it provides no protection for children aged 14 to 18, who also face exploitation and abuse by their employers.


Nevertheless, when investigating child labor in India in 1996 and 2003, Human Rights Watch found that most government officials responsible for enforcing the law failed to do so. Illegal employers almost never faced sanction. Money that the government allocates for rehabilitation, which is critical for preventing children from returning to dangerous work, remained unspent.
Child domestic workers, those under age 18, are nearly invisible and are especially vulnerable. They work alone in individual households, hidden from public scrutiny, where their lives are controlled by their employers. Child domestics typically work long hours for little or no pay.
Many have no opportunity to go to school, or are forced to drop out because of the demands of their job. They are subject to verbal and physical abuse, and are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse. They may be fired for small infractions, losing not only their jobs, but their place of residence as well.


Worldwide, more girls work as domestics than in any other form of child labor, according to estimates by the International Labor Organization. In India, caste-based violence and discrimination, not just poverty, keep Dalits (or so-called untouchables) in slave-like conditions, including bonded labor.

Human Rights Watch urged the government to do more to address factors that push children into the worst forms of child labor, including lack of access to education and caste-based violence and discrimination.

"When schools are not available, are poor quality, charge prohibitive school fees, or discriminate against Dalit children, children go to work instead, where they are subject to further abuses," said Coursen-Neff.

Read the full article

7:35 AM

Tuesday, October 03, 2006  
Row over Dalit electorate rocks panchayat

October 3 2006

THANJAVUR: In what is perceived as a jolt to the election process and the system of reserving panchayat posts for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, not even a single nomination has been filed for the posts of president and ward members in Sirangudi panchayat near Pattukkottai due to the controversy over the number of Dalit voters.

The posts of president of Sirangudi and ward members which were open for all till the last election was now reserved for Dalits by the district administration as per the norms laid down by the State Election Commission.According to sources, the total number of voters in the panchayat is 923, with Dalit voters accounting for 574 as per the 2001 Census report.

Based on the report, the administration allocated the posts of president and three members for Dalits.Meanwhile, about 500 Dalits converted to Christianity over the years leaving only 74 Dalits in the panchayat eligible for filing nominations. Subsequently, the caste Hindus opposed to reserving the panchayat for Dalits and they allegedly intimidated the Dalits not to file any nominations.

Against this backdrop, the Dalit Panthers of India (DPI) wanted the caste Hindus to allow the election process as scheduled and appeal before the court for redressal of their grievance. Meanwhile, the DPI decided to field Chandraleka, wife of Muruganantham, as the candidate for the post of president and prepared the documents required for filing the nomination.

But on the last day for filing of nominations, Muruganandam was allegedly detained by the caste Hindus thus preventing him and his wife from filing the nomination. “It is not fair to disrupt the election process. The aggrieved caste Hindus can appeal to the court of law to get their grievances redressed. By preventing the Dalits from filing nominations, the caste Hindus have made a mockery of the election process”, DPI state propaganda secretary N Elamthendral told this website’s newspaper.

“We were keeping Muruganantham under our custody. We sent him to his village to bring his wife so as to file the nomination but he was detained by the caste Hindus thus thwarting our efforts”, Elamthendral added.

When asked about the issue, Collector C Vijayaraj Kumar clarified that the district administration had reserved the panchayat for Dalits based on the 2001 Census report as per the norms laid down by the State Election Commission. “We were not aware of the total population of the Dalits at present. However, no one came forward to file nominations. However, we have now informed the State Election Commission and the State government about it. The EC will conduct a re-election soon after the local body elections are over”, he said.

Asked about the alleged intimidation of the Dalits by the caste Hindus, the collector said that no one had made any complaint to that effect to the administration. “Had they brought it to our notice, we would have given necessary protection to the Dalits filing nominations. Anyhow, we will give necessary protection to the Dalit candidates when the re-election is held”, the Collector added.

Link to the article

9:43 AM

Dalit candidates forced to withdraw from contest

October 3 2006

TIRUVANNAMALAI: The election to the post of panchayat president of Angunam village, near Vettavalam, which is reserved for Dalit women, was stopped abruptly as all the four candidates were pressurised to withdraw on the last date for withdrawing nominations.

It is said that Thandapani, the present panchayat president, who belonged to BC, had been elected unopposed several times.This time, as the post was reserved for Dalit women, Kuppu, wife of Kanagaraj, Anjalai, wife of Anbalagan, Malar, wife of Balan and Selvi, wife of Murugan, had filed their nominations.According to Malar and Balan, Thandapani allegedly approached the four candidates and their husbands and warned them that if they contested, there would be a clash. Besides, they would have to spend a lot of money for electioneering. So, it would be better to decide the president by mutual consent or lucky draw.

After convincing all the four candidates, Thandapani had taken all of them to the panchayat union office on Saturday afternoon. There, instead of selecting one candidate by mutual consent or lucky draw, Thandapani had tactically pressurised all of them to withdraw saying that he would arrange for the elections in another two months and then they could decide on the collective candidate.

‘‘We could have decided the mutual candidate now and utilised this rare chance which we Dalits got. But, no one was there to support us,’’ Malar bemoaned.‘‘There are three panchayat wards to elect two members each to the panchayat board, under which one ward falls under the Dalit area and two under upper caste area. For the two members from the Dalit area, five Dalit candidates filed papers. But, Thandapani made all of them to withdraw saying that there should not be any clash between the Dalits and he would decide who would be the ward member when the elections came again,’’ said Anbalagan, husband of Anjalai.

‘‘But for the posts of four ward members which come under the upper caste area, more then 10 people are contesting and they are not asked to elect their members unanimously,’’ said Kanagaraj, husband of Kuppu.

Thandapani of the DMK was contesting for the post of panchayat union councillor this time. So, fearing that there might be a confusion among voters if they had to select a president along with the other three posts of panchayat ward member, union ward member and district panchayat ward member, he preferred to hold the president elections afterwards.

His brother Kalyanasundaram, a VAO, and vice-president Basker, were instrumental among others in striking the deal. ‘‘The president is not hostile towards us, we believe. But if he tried to de-reserve this presidential post we will approach Local Administration Minister M K Stalin, seeking justice. But, we are sure that Thandapani will not deceive us,’’ said K Elumalai, a Dalit and village youth wing organizer of the DMK.

When this website's newspaper’s correspondent contacted Thandapani, he said that he had nothing to with the decision. ‘‘They (Dalits) wanted to elect the president unanimously and there was no sufficient time to decide the common candidate. So they took the decision to withdraw all the nominations by themselves,’’ he said.‘‘I have no problem in accepting a Dalit president,’’ he added.Vettavalam town secretary of the CPM, Tirumurthy said, ‘‘This is not a fair deal and our party would fight against this injustice to the Dalits. We have started to discuss the mode of protest.’’

Link to the article

9:37 AM

This page is powered by Blogger.