Dalit woman works at construction site

A Dalit woman works at construction site in Bangalore. 


Communities discriminated on work and descent are some of the most excluded, segregated, and marginalized groups at the global and local level within their social, economic, political, and cultural systems. Their fate is not too different from that of racialized communities. They are all assigned categories that are regarded as permanent by those that oppress, exploit, and discriminate against them.

The consequences of this marginalization are the deprivation, systematic and systemic exclusion from education, health, access to water and sanitation, employment, voting rights, equal access to land and housing, and access to religious institutions in the public sphere.

Speakers described, some from the workerspoint of view, how such discrimination makes people feel as if they do not exist except when their service is needed by those that discriminate against them.

Rev. Dr Deenabandhu Manchala, theologian and author, and former World Council of Churches (WCC) staff, moderated the discussion, expressing his profound thanks to the WCC for hosting an event that calls for a discrimination-free world,” he said, underscoring the urgency of finding solutions.

Paul Divakar Namala, convenor of the Global Forum of Communities Discriminated on Work and Descent in New Delhi and New York, said that communities discriminated against work and descent face a very distinct type of social structure and discrimination among many societies across the globe, and that they suffer from a particular set of human rights violations on a particular set of people.”

This kind of discrimination impacts an estimated 260 million people across the world, he noted, and if we put them all in one, place, theyd be the fifth largest country in the world.”

Dr Simoni Torotcoi, director of the Romani Rights Forum in Romania, explained why Roma are one of the most discriminated-against groups in Europe. We are perceived as heretics, as a community who chose to practice a different religion, and are strongly associated with witchcraft, sorcery, fortunetelling, and so on,” she said, going on to detail the obstacles Roma face in gaining citizenship in the various countries in which they live.

Priyanka Samy, from the National Federation of Dalit Women in India explained how the caste system is more than 3,000 years old, and is based on purity and impurity. There are about 260 million Dalits worldwide and more than 200 million Dalits living in India alone,” she said, adding that the caste system is quite similar to racism in the sense in that the oppression and discrimination are both systemic in nature.”

Vercilene Dias, legal coordinator of the National Confederation of Quilombola Communities in Brazil, explained how an oppressive histrionical framework has placed the Quilombola communities on the outskirts of society, limiting their access to justice.

Only over after years of fights for their rights have Quilombola communities now achieved the ability to be present in the national census and to have their story told,” she said. We are humans. Were not animals.”

Dr Brahim Ramdhane, director of the Sahel Foundation in Mauritania, gave a personal account of how descendants of the sub-Saharan slave trade have been treated in Mauritania. We usually talk about trans-Atlantic slavery but there is a trans-Saharian slave travel route which comes from the north of Africa—Libya, Morocco, Algeria—and this is trans-Saharan slavery.

Rita Izsak, senior advisor on Anti-Racism, UNDP Global Policy Network; former member UN CERD; and former special rapporteur on Minority Rights, thanked the panelists for providing such focused and candid information from their local contexts.

I really see the opportunities that we have when we come together and we dont try to just advocate as individual communities,” she said. It can be really difficult and really discouraging.”

Izsak emphasized how important it is to keep this issue on the agenda. What do we do together?” she asked as a way of sparking future thought.

More information about this event

Watch the recording of the webinar