Belgium; February 8, 2007. The European Parliament has brought hope to Dalits in India this week after it passed a resolution opposing caste discrimination
The European Parliament has this week passed a resolution opposing caste discrimination.
Caste discrimination is most commonly associated with India, but the existence of similar discrimination in Japan, some South Asian countries, and a number of African states, is gaining wider recognition.
The European resolution did not pass easily but faced opposition from two British MEPs, Nirj Deva (Conservative) and Neena Gill (Labour), who claimed that some statements in the resolution were untrue.
Rev David Haslam from the Dalit Solidarity Network in the UK, said: "The prime minister of India said recently that caste discrimination is a blot on humanity.
"It is a blot on both the Conservative and Labour parties that their representatives in Europe should oppose such an important human rights resolution.
"It suggests that caste is alive and well in British politics and this should be addressed by our political leaders as a matter of urgency."
The resolution stated: "Implementation of laws protecting the rights of Dalits remains grossly inadequate, and that atrocities, untouchability, illiteracy, inequality of opportunity, manual scavenging, underpayment of wages, bonded labour, child labour and landlessness continue to blight the lives of India's Dalits.
"The Development Committee expresses its concern at the low rate of conviction for the perpetrators of such crimes and calls on the government of India to improve its criminal justice system in order to facilitate registration of charges against perpetrators of crimes against Dalits, to increase the conviction rate for such perpetrators, to significantly reduce the duration of court procedures; and to take special measures for the protection of Dalit women."