05, Jul 2015
Submitted by TwoCircles.net on 5 July 2015 – 6:26pm
(Editor’s Note: This is Case Study which is part of a new annual report titled ‘State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2015’ prepared by Minority Rights Group International’s.)
By Rajiv Shah,
In Ahmedabad, located in the heart of Gujarat state, Dalits have been an important but often invisible presence for generations, working as scavengers and waste-clearers within the strict confines of India’s caste system. Concentrated on the periphery of the city, frequently segregated from other communities, many had also migrated to the city in search of work in emerging industries such as Ahmedabad’s textile mills. Nevertheless, though strong caste and communal barriers remained in place, Dalit settlements existed alongside upper-caste and Muslim neighbourhoods in the city centre and the nearby industrial townships. However, over the last few decades a number of violent incidents, including anti-Dalit riots in 1981 and communal violence in 2002, have reinforced divisions. This case study, drawing on interviews conducted in December 2014 with a number of activists and community members based in the city, highlights some of the key challenges facing Dalit women today.