Dalit means “broken people” and is the name chosen by Dalits themselves, previously
known as “untouchables”, to signify a growing movement of empowerment and assertion
and to challenge an oppressive system and the oppressors. Dalits are ascribed to the
lowest strata by their caste status and considered “lesser human beings”, “impure” and
thus “polluting” to other caste groups. This form of discrimination, based on caste, is one
of the largest human rights abuses in the world today - too often unacknowledged and
Existing pervasive and entrenched stigma of Dalits involves widespread social segregation
of affected individuals and communities who are confined to separate physical spaces and
to certain degrading jobs from which they cannot break free. Dalits are often forcibly
assigned the most dirty, menial and hazardous jobs, such as cleaning human waste. The
work they do adds to the stigmatisation they face from the surrounding society.
This imposed marginalisation becomes an externalised and internalised social norm that
eventually legitimatises mistreatment and abuses against affected communities,
perpetuating discrimination and patterns of human rights violations against them. The
exclusion of Dalits leads to high levels of poverty among affected population groups and
exclusion from, or reduced benefits from development processes, and generally precludes
their involvement in decision making and meaningful participation in public and civil life.
Estimates indicate that over 250 million people suffer from caste-based discrimination
worldwide. The highest numbers of affected communities are concentrated in South Asia,
particularly India and Nepal, but can also be found in other geographical contexts,
including in Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific region, as well as in diaspora
Dalit Solidarity Network UK (DSN-UK) promotes equality, diversity and human rights in the
UK and elsewhere, and in particular the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of
caste and analogous systems of inherited status such as that suffered by the Dalits. DSN-
UK vision is a world without caste discrimination.
We would like you to consider taking some of the actions below:
1. Write to your MP raising the issue of caste-based discrimination here, in the UK and
2. Distribute DSN-UK leaflets at events in the UK.
3. Support DSN-UK work by making a donation and becoming a DSN-UK member.
4. Ask to be added to DSN-UK network for regular updates by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Follow us on Twitter @DSNUK
6. For more information go to: http://dsnuk.org