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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.
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:
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. See:
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."
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.
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-
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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 Nepal
"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.
* 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 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.
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.
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.