India's 'Untouchables' Fight Back Against Abuses Heaped On Them

by
Lauren Burgoon
Dalit Camera shows what it's like to be at the bottom of the Indian caste system.

India's seemingly intractable caste system subjects people regarded as less-than to daily abuses. Once called "untouchables," the dalit are considered among the lowest; they weren't even worthy of being in a recognized caste.

While there are plenty of movements afoot to change attitudes, prejudices endure. Some dalits are fighting back against daily humiliation and abuse -- including public ridicule, harassment and even rape and murder -- with a YouTube channel dedicated to their struggle. 

"'Dalit Camera: Through Un-Touchable Eyes' captures narratives, public meetings, songs, talks, discussion on dalits," according to the project's organizers

Dalit issues are routinely ignored by the media, project founder Bathan Ravichandran told Global Post. But the group continues to face horrible violence, including teen girls raped and hung from a tree.

"I was frustrated by the mainstream media‚Äôs coverage, or the lack of it, on dalit issues. Most commentators invited to television debates were high caste elites, and if at all a dalit was ever invited, he would get shouted down," Ravichandran says. "I started Dalit Camera to record their views, as well as the views of oppressed dalit minorities."

Dalits are India's most marginalized people: Children sit separately from others at school, they can't enter police stations, 70 percent are illiterate and half don't have access to clean water.

And the violence they face is overwhelming. Every week, according to Overcoming Violence

  • 13 dalit are murdered 
  • 5 dalit homes are burned 
  • 6 dalit people are kidnapped or abducted 
  • 21 dalit women raped