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Most were only given flour and chili peppers as food and had no access to plumbing facilities or medical care. Provincial governments responsible for their enforcement have yet to establish mechanisms to put them into practice. According to the United Nation Development Programme's "Nepal Human Development Report ," despite legal pronouncements to the contrary, bonded labor has not been eradicated in Nepal.

The report adds:.

In the mid-western and far western hills, the debt-bonded agricultural labourers, haliyas, mainly from "untouchable" castes, work under this system. Such discrimination was designed to keep alive and intensify the system of debt bondage. Because the primary interest of the landlord lies in continued cultivation of his land and in regular assurance of labour supply, his lending is not directed towards earning interest in cash NRB The legacy of slavery as a form of caste and descent-based discrimination in Mauritania is an issue the government must do more to address. Both the Arab and Afro-Mauritanian groups have long distinguished community members on the basis of caste, and both included a caste-like designation of "slave" within these systems.

To this day a former "slave" distinction-particularly for the Haratines, Arabic speakers of Sub-Saharan African origin-still carries significant social implications. At best, members of higher and lower castes are discouraged from intermarrying. In Soninke communities, members of the slave caste are also buried in separate cemeteries.

Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Volume II of VII

Though the government has long outlawed slave-like distinctions and practices, it has taken few steps to enforce these laws. A weak economy also leaves former slaves with few options other than remaining with the families of masters who owned their ancestors. Caste and Socio-Economic Disparities Significant economic and educational disparities persist between lower and higher-caste communities in the countries highlighted in this report.

Lower-caste communities are often plagued by low literacy levels and a lack of access to health care and education. A lack of formal education or training, as well as discrimination that effectively bars them from many forms of employment, and the nonenforcement of protective legislation, perpetuates caste-based employment and keeps its hereditary nature alive.

As of , there were reportedly only two Dalit medical doctors and fifteen Dalit engineers in Nepal. Nepal's Human Development Report revealed that development indicators closely followed caste lines. Without a single exception, the lower the caste, the lower the life expectancy, the literacy rate, years of schooling, and per capita income.

However, the gap between so-called higher and lower castes has not narrowed. There have hardly been any changes in the society or the living standard of the poor. Consequently, the people of backward communities have felt discriminated against and could not believe that the Government was doing anything for their welfare and development.

Access to Education High drop-out and lower literacy rates among lower-caste populations have rather simplistically been characterized as the natural consequences of poverty and underdevelopment. Though these rates are partly attributable to the need for low-caste children to supplement their family wages through labor, more insidious and less well-documented is the discriminatory and abusive treatment faced by low-caste children who attempt to attend school, at the hands of their teachers and fellow students.

Over fifty years since India 's constitutional promise of free, compulsory, primary education for all children up to the age of fourteen-with special care and consideration to be given to promote the educational progress of scheduled castes-illiteracy still plagues almost two-thirds of the Dalit population as compared to about one-half of the general population.

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The literacy gap between Dalits and the rest of the population fell a scant 0. Most of the government schools in which Dalit students are enrolled are deficient in basic infrastructure, classrooms, teachers, and teaching aids. A majority of Dalit students are also enrolled in vernacular schools whose students suffer serious disadvantages in the job market as compared to those who learn in English-speaking schools.

Despite state assistance in primary education, Dalits also suffer from an alarming drop-out rate. According to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes' and Report , the national drop-out rate for Dalit children-who often sit in the back of classrooms-was a staggering Rodiya children in Sri Lanka rarely study past elementary levels, if at all. Instead, their parents require them to realize their income-earning potential even as young children, and often prematurely take them out of school.

According to a Sri Lankan activist only 65 percent of plantation workers can read or write, compared to a high 90 percent national average. Higher drop out rates among children of plantation workers stems partly from the employment of these children as domestic workers, hotel workers, or sanitation cleaners. The Buraku of Japan also suffer from lower levels of higher education than the national average, and higher dropout rates than the broader society. In particular, Buraku women report lower levels of literacy, high school and university enrollment, and employment.

In Nepal the literacy rate for Dalits is appallingly low at 10 percent for men and 3. According to the government's own fourteenth periodic report under ICERD, "The lowest literacy is among the occupational castes. Women constitute more than two thirds of the illiterates. Access to Land Most Dalit victims of abuse in India are landless agricultural laborers who form the backbone of the nation's agrarian economy. Despite decades of land reform legislation, over 86 percent of Dalit households today are landless or near landless.

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Those who own land often own very little. Land is the prime asset in rural areas that determines an individual's standard of living and social status. As with many other low-caste populations, lack of access to land makes Dalits economically vulnerable; their dependency is exploited by upper- and middle-caste landlords and allows for many abuses to go unpunished.

Landless agricultural laborers throughout the country work for a few kilograms of rice or Rs. Many laborers owe debts to their employers or other moneylenders. Indian laws and regulations that prohibit alienation of Dalit lands, set ceilings on a single landowner's holdings, or allocate surplus government lands to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes have been largely ignored, or worse, manipulated by upper castes with the help of district administrations. Although many of Nepal's agricultural laborers are Dalits, Dalits also have a startlingly low rate of land ownership-only 3. Moreover, 90 percent of Nepal Dalits live below the poverty line, compared to 45 percent of the overall population.

Their per capita income amounts to a paltry U. Political Representation and Political Rights India 's policy of "reservations" or caste-based quotas is an attempt by the central government to remedy past injustices related to low-caste status. To allow for proportional representation in certain state and federal institutions, the constitution reserves The reservation policy, however, has not been fully implemented.

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The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes' and report indicates that of the total scheduled caste reservation quota in the Central Government, 54 percent remains unfilled. More than 88 percent of posts reserved in the public sector remain unfilled as do 45 percent in state banks. A closer examination of the caste composition of government services, institutions of education and other services, however, reveals what Dalit activists call an "unacknowledged reservation policy" for upper-castes, particularly Brahmins, built into the system.

Though they represented only 5 percent of the population in , Brahmins comprised 70 percent of the Class I officers in governmental services. At universities, upper-castes occupy 90 percent of the teaching posts in the social sciences and 94 percent in the sciences, while Dalit representation is only 1. Dalits throughout India also suffer in many instances from de facto disenfranchisement. While India remains the world's largest democracy, for many of its Dalit citizens democracy has been a sham.

During elections, many are routinely threatened and beaten by political party strongmen in order to compel them to vote for certain candidates. Already under the thumb of local landlords and police officials, Dalit villagers who do not comply have been harassed, beaten, and murdered. Police and upper-caste militias, operating at the behest of powerful political leaders in India's states, have also punished Dalit voters. In February , police raided a Dalit village in Tamil Nadu that had boycotted the national parliamentary elections.


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Women were kicked and beaten, their clothing was torn, and police forced sticks and iron pipes into their mouths. Kerosene was poured into stored food grains and grocery items and police reportedly urinated in cooking vessels. In Bihar, political candidates ensure their majority vote with the help of senas , civilian militias, whose members intimidate and kill. The Ranvir Sena, a private militia of upper-caste landlords, was responsible for killing more than fifty people during Bihar's state election campaign.

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The sena was again used to intimidate voters in Ara district, Bihar, during the February national parliamentary elections. Dalits who have contested political office in village councils and municipalities through seats that have been constitutionally "reserved" for them have been threatened with physical abuse and even death in order to get them to withdraw from the campaign. In the village of Melavalavu, in Tamil Nadu's Madurai district, following the election of a Dalit to the village council presidency, members of a higher-caste group murdered six Dalits in June , including the elected council president, whom they beheaded.

Unlike India, Nepal does not provide for reservations of posts or quotas in political bodies, civil sector jobs, and institutions of higher learning.

Though they comprise over 20 percent of the population, lower castes are dramatically underrepresented in government. Since , only fourteen Dalits in Nepal have become members of parliament upper house through a system of nomination, all of them men. Only one Dalit has been elected to the House of Representatives. In Sri Lanka, Indian-origin Tamils-who have resided in the country since the nineteenth century-can only become citizens through registration. They are denied the right to citizenship by descent to which the rest of the Sri Lankan population is entitled. Physical and Economic Retaliation A principal weapon in sustaining the low status of Dalits in India is the use of social and economic boycotts and acts of retaliatory violence.

Dalits are physically abused and threatened with economic and social ostracism from the community for refusing to carry out various caste-based tasks. Any attempt to alter village customs, defy the social order, or to demand land, increased wages, or political rights leads to violence and economic retaliation on the part of those most threatened by changes in the status quo. Dalit communities as a whole are summarily punished for individual transgressions; Dalits are cut off from community land and employment during social boycotts, Dalit women bear the brunt of physical attacks, and the law is rarely enforced.

Since the early s, violence against Dalits has escalated dramatically in response to growing Dalit rights movements. Between and , a total of 90, cases were registered with the police nationwide as crimes and "atrocities" against scheduled castes. Of these 1, were for murder, 12, for hurt, 2, for rape, and 31, for offenses listed under the Prevention of Atrocities Act.

India's National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has reported that these cases typically fall into one of three categories: cases relating to the practice of "untouchability" and attempts to defy the social order; cases relating to land disputes and demands for minimum wages; and cases of atrocities by police and forest officials. Most of the conflicts take place within very narrow segments of the caste hierarchy, between the poor and the not so poor, the landless laborer and the marginal landowner. The differences lie in the considerable amount of leverage that the higher-caste Hindus or non-Dalits are able to wield over local police, district administrations, and even state governments.

On the night of December 1, , an upper-caste landlord militia called the Ranvir Sena shot dead sixteen children, twenty-seven women, and eighteen men in the village of Laxmanpur-Bathe, Jehanabad district Bihar. Five teenage girls were raped and mutilated before being shot in the chest.