Dalit bangladesh discrimination discriminatie


Discrimination based on gender, religion, caste and tribal background is a widespread issue in the workplace in South Asia.

Read more below

In its research on international supply chains, Arisa encounters a wide range of discriminatory practices in the workplace. Gender, religion, caste and tribal background often determine workers’ employment opportunities and affect how they can perform their jobs and how they are treated in the workplace.  

While our work addresses all forms of discrimination, we focus especially on caste-based discrimination, an issue deeply rooted in South Asian societies. India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have many laws to combat caste-based discrimination and to protect all residents and citizens of these countries. However, the implementation of these laws remains poor.

Caste-based discrimination

Caste is an ancient system of social hierarchy based on birth and linked to concepts of purity and social status. This system is deeply rooted in the culture of several South Asian countries. In particular, casteless people, or people belonging to the so-called ‘Scheduled Castes’ (who often refer to themselves as Dalits), are widely considered to be inferior in countries where the caste system exists. They face all kinds of social exclusion.  

This caste-based discrimination affects 260 million people in the region.    

Studies of supply chains show that, where there are many labour rights violations, Scheduled Caste people are often the victims. They are usually uneducated, mistreated and given only the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs. Comprising a large number of people, they suffer all kinds of discrimination in the workplace: for example, they have to use separate transport, have to eat and drink separately, have segregated sleeping and working areas, and have to perform extra cleaning activities. 

The link between caste and religion 

There are clear links between caste-based discrimination and religion in South Asia. Both lower-caste communities and religious minorities occupy marginalised economic, social and cultural positions in South Asian societies.   

Specific social characteristics based on caste and religion are the main determinants of poverty across India. Members of Scheduled Castes, alongside tribal communities and Muslims, are the worst off. Hindu Dalits in India have converted to other religions such as Christianity, Buddhism and Islam for years to try to escape the hardships and discrimination that are inextricably linked to being from a Scheduled Caste background. An estimated 70 per cent of Christians in India are from Scheduled Caste communities.  

In other South Asian countries, Scheduled Castes are often part of the Hindu community and face double discrimination, being both Dalits and members of a religious minority in a predominantly Muslim country.  

Although most Dalits identify as Hindus, a similar caste system also occurs among other religious groups in South Asia. Islam and Christianity do not formally have a caste system, but this exists in practice within Islamic and Christian communities in several South Asian countries. 

Intersectionality: caste, religion and gender

Women from lower castes and/or religious minorities in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan face intersectionality (intersectional disadvantage) because they are Dalit and/or members of a religious minority as well as women. Dalit women and women from religious minorities face frequent exclusion from economic opportunities and experience gender-based violence and harassment.  

Rape is a constant fear among Dalit women in India. Women and girls from Scheduled Castes and/or religious minorities in India often lack access to a proper toilet, which causes issues of safety and menstrual hygiene. In Scheduled Caste communities in Bangladesh, early marriage and restricted freedom of travel are prevalent for girls and women. And in Pakistan, many young women and girls from Scheduled Castes are forced to convert to Islam.  

Discrimination in international supply chains

Caste-based discrimination and intersectionality, sometimes linked to religion, are high-risk factors for companies sourcing products from India, Bangladesh or Pakistan. Caste-based discrimination is an under-reported human rights problem and a significant risk for all companies with international supply chains in South Asia.  

Arisa pays attention to the position of the members of Scheduled Castes in the production sectors in which it works. We put caste-based discrimination on the agenda by working internationally with the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN).