On May 16, India will announce a new national government and face a number of grave issues, including the persecution of more than 200 million Dalits throughout the country.
Dalits, once considered “Untouchables,” are Indians believed to be tainted by their birth and designated to a caste system as an inferior class.
The Constitution of India recognizes Dalits as Scheduled Castes, a group of historically disadvantaged people protected in the Constitution of India. Although discrimination based on caste has been prohibited under the constitution, discrimination and prejudice against Dalits persists daily.
Ninety percent of India’s poor are Dalits. They are relegated to the lowest jobs and live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated, beaten, raped, and murdered by the upper castes. It is estimated that a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes. According to India’s National Crime Record Bureau, 33,719 crimes against Dalits were committed in 2011.
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