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The Dalit Women’s Cry for Justice Methodist Women in Britain

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Presentation on theme: "The Dalit Women’s Cry for Justice Methodist Women in Britain"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Dalit Women’s Cry for Justice Methodist Women in Britain

2 India is the 7 th largest country in the world. Population over 1.24 bn, over 26% are Dalit or Tribal

3 India’s economic boom may have led to a rich elite and growing middle class, however 450 million people continue to live in extreme poverty. These people are often Dalit or Tribal people, which means they are discriminated against, marginalised and considered to be less important in society. They are often unaware of their basic human rights to education, healthcare and services. Source MRDF website

4 Eking out a living

5 DALIT Root word – Dal In Sanskrit and Hebrew mean: crushed, split, rent asunder, oppressed, broken, destroyed, scattered etc.

6 Of the 1.2 billion people in India, Dalits and Tribals make up 26% of the population, and most remain destitute and illiterate. They have given themselves the name Dalit – crushed, broken. The Hindu caste system which believes social status is linked to the actions – good or bad – of a previous existence results in a contemptuous regard for the poor.

7 Walking to church in Ambelohol

8 Caste - A Brief History The caste system has its roots in ancient manuscripts, the Vedas, dating back to 1500-1200 BCE.

9 Human Beings Created from God Brahma’s Body Brahmins from Head (Priestly class) Kshatriyas from Shoulders (Warriors/Ruling class) Vaisyas from Thighs (Business class) Sudras from the feet (Servant Class)


11 ‘To be Dalit is much worse than being poor, for no matter how much education or wealth a Dalit accumulates, he or she remains polluted, a shame on the face of the earth.’ Tim Stafford, writing in Christianity Today

12 The untouchables (Dalits) – Purity and Pollution ‘As a young girl I had to walk with my hands behind my back holding a broom so that when I walked my footsteps were wiped out and the Brahmins would not be polluted by them. Whenever our shadow fell on a Brahmin, they would run with fear and sprinkle water over us, because they thought if they stepped into our shadow they would be polluted. The only time we were allowed near the Brahmin’s houses was when one of their animals died and then we would have to drag it away.’ Valerie Mason-John: Broken Voices Untouchable Women Speak 2008

13 Discrimination against Dalits Although discrimination and atrocities against Dalit or Tribal people are outlawed:- The majority of Dalits in India are forced to live in colonies rural villages or in city slums. The majority of ‘bonded labourers’ in India (up to 60 million) are Dalits

14 A report in 2006 stated that :- Public health workers refused to visit homes in 33% of villages. Dalits were prevented from entering Police Stations in 26.7% of villages. Dalits were denied access to water sources in 48.4% of villages because of segregation and untouchability practices. Dalit children had to sit separately while eating in 37.8% of schools. Dalits are not allowed to drink in the tea shops. Literacy rates for Dalit women are less than 40% in rural India. Untouchability in Rural India 2006

15 Drumming is a traditional Dalit activity – used more recently to express their situation/oppression

16 Violence against Dalits It is estimated that :- Every 2 hours a Dalit is assaulted. Every day:- 3 Dalit women are raped, 2 Dalits are murdered and 2 Dalit houses are burned. ‘A Cry for Dignity’ Mary C Grey

17 A problem – worldwide? Caste oppression follows Dalits when they leave India hoping to escape Caste. Approx 50,000 Dalits live in the UK. Areas of concern are:- ‘Discrimination in employment, education and religious institutions, particularly in relation to access to temples’ Dalit Solidarity Network in Britain

18 ‘Thrice Dalit’ Christian Dalit women endure a threefold discrimination:- Dalit by birth – caste discrimination Dalit woman – discriminated against for being female, within their own family and marriage even by their husbands who frequently beat them and allow them to bear an unequal burden of work. Dalit Christian – not entitled to financial and legal support given by law to other Dalits (incl Buddhist and Sikh Dalits)

19 Women are always dominated, submissive to father, brothers, husband, especially in rural areas. A high proportion of them are illiterate (more than 60%) They continue to be victims of crimes of violence and receive little protection under the law. We heard that when girl babies are born, the mothers shed tears (thinking of the suffering she will face); Deborah Kirk 2012

20 At home – little girl – attitude of hopelessness

21 A boy baby is treated the heir of the family; but a girl will leave the home to go to someone else’s, so they have no value for the family. In poor families, thinking of the dowry, parents are reluctant to spend money on the education of girls. Deborah Kirk 2012

22 A Woman’s work is never done ‘The women work as hard as the men without counting the household chores, which they must do as well’ Robert Deliege The Untouchables of India

23 Woman carrying wood

24 They are paid less than men for these tasks, and often have children working alongside them Women may also be manual labourers in agriculture, road repairs/cleaning, rock breaking, removal of dead animals, manual scavenging.

25 Men and women repairing a road. A number of young children work alongside the adults, carrying stones in baskets on their heads.

26 Manual Scavenging – removal of human excrement from dry latrines Niita cleans 25 toilets daily and is paid less than 40 rupees per house per month Photos courtesy of Dalit Solidarity Network UK

27 Niita works in private homes, where she is regarded by the homeowners as unclean (photo courtesy Dalit Solidarity Network UK

28 A cry for Dignity – can we help? Swapna comes from village of Denga-amba, Gajapati District. Swapna means ‘Dream’

29 Without education, her prospects are such that she is unlikely to be able to break out of the constraints of her life, she will remain marginalised and oppressed, to struggle all her life. Education is the strongest tool of empowerment – a woman who is educated cannot be pushed aside so easily, a woman who is educated has a voice, a woman who is educated has a chance for her dream of a future to become reality. Deborah Kirk 2012

30 A Story of Hope In 2012 the church in Berhampur pledged to give Sulakhani, a young tribal girl from the forest village of Denga-Amba, 1IR per day to enable her to study for her BTh training.

31 In 2013 Sulakhani has now married a young man from her village and is now working as an evangelist particularly among the women. However, to be appointed as a female pastor will not be easy, please pray for Sulakhani.

32 Methodist Women in Britain is in partnership with the Church in North India and has pledged to raise £50,000 between 2013-2016 CNI plan to use this money to develop their hostel education programme for Dalit girls and to fund self-help groups for adult women. (more information in the Resource pack)

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