Bangladesh has a population of 150 million people and it is one of the least developed countries in the world. There is an estimated 10 million Dalits living in 64 districts. Most Dalits in Bangladesh are descendants of immigrants from South India. In the 1830s, Dalits were brought to Bangladesh by the British colonial regime to provide menial services for them. Most Dalits are Hindus and some are Christians, and they mainly speak Hindhi, Telegu, Urdhu and Bangla. Caste-based discrimination in Bangladesh includes practices of untouchability imposed by the dominant caste of both Hindu and Muslims communities, such as denial of access to upper caste/Muslim houses, temples, hairdressers, and restaurants. Dalits face discrimination in employment, housing, education, and access to basic services. The social exclusion of Dalits is manifested in the physical structure of the villages throughout the country. Social and economic interactions of Dalits are mainly restricted by religion, caste and occupation. Dalits in Bangladesh are referred to professions, which are considered impure such as sweeping, sewerage cleaning, tea garden laboring, burring of dead bodies, processing of mastered oil, gardening, shoe and leather work, drum beating, washing etc. Horijon, Sweepers Rishi/cobblers, Jaladas, Nomoshudra, Dhopa, Bormon, Bagdi, Kayputro, Kornidas, Malo, Maimol, Bahera, Rajbongshi communities are known as dalits. They have no access in safe drinking water, sanitation, social justice, standing committee of local governments, political inclusion, Jobs and alternative income option due to belonging in out/low caste. Professor Majbah Kamam, Department of History, Dhaka University presented research papers in the program titles Dalits Poverty profile organized by MJF (Daily Star, 19 November 2008). He has shown of socio-economic problems and Poverty profile of the Dalits in Bangladesh. More than 80% of Dalits experience discrimination in admission to schools. Dalits parents are actively discouraged by teachers from sending their children. Dalit students are teased by teachers and non- Dalit students. There is a massive economic inequality within the social groups. The wage rate is also determined by caste-based economic discrimination in rural areas. Exclusion of employment in any work or selectively in some types of works in agricultural operation or household work inside house leads to lower level of employment as compared with ‘higher caste’ workers. The PRSP has no indication about dalit people. In the same way the national budget made every year does not specify any allocation for them. Dalits are often forced to work for non-Dalits without being paid because they, at times, are dependent on their help. A vast majority of Dalits experience discrimination when trying to get a loan from a bank or a money lender. Dalits are often kept out of politics and decision making. They often find it difficult to elect their own leaders and vote in elections where they are commonly threatened with violence to vote against their will or bribed to vote for a particular candidate. The Dalit people also think that they are born to serve and respect the high ups and other non –dalit people. This is due to socialization processes. There is lack of self-esteem and self-confidence among them. The densely populated and congested housing situation is a desperate sign of the inadequate and unhealthy living conditions. Furthermore, evictions and shifting of housing by the City Corporation, often as a result of land grabbing, are commonly practiced, and leave Dalits without homes. Women are more sufferers than males within the Dalit community. As most of the Dalit community is systematically integrated in the Hindu caste structure, their social and economic status is much lower to that of males. Likewise, the health and nutritional status of Dalit women is pathetic. The political participation of Dalit women at the word and union council level is zero. Women have not sufficient education as they are qualified to do any job.
■ Limited access to education, widespread illiteracy and disappearance of cultural identity: The dalits groups including Rishi are suffering from a very low level of education. The surveys conducted among the dalits groups provide the following data: literacy rate among the dalits community is only 35% (male 38%, female 20%) while the national average is 65%. Dalits children are scared to go to school; being untouchable, they are not allowed to sit together with other children, and there is hardly any separate school for their education. The particular issue for dalits people’s are that they consider as essential for their development to increase accessibility in public or private schools.
■ Limited access to political and decision making process: The Dalit population as a whole is least aware of the Government. The political participation of Dalit population is zero. Their representation at the Village, District and the National level government is rather insignificant compared to their population size. Dalits people of this area are not participating in the political activities. The local leaders use them in the time of any election. They are under pressure during the election. Parittran has experience to struggle to inclusion political empowerment of dalits. In the upazilla election 2009, a dalits leader (came from rishi) Mr. Uday Das was stood up as contestant of Upazilla Chairman by the leading of Parittran and whole dalits inhabitants at Tala. During election campaign the mainstreaming people have shouted in the street openly that “Stop dalits and save the country”. At last he was cancelled election by the pressure of so called and mainstreaming leaders.
■ Dalits peoples are not well aware about law and democracy: Parittran assess that about more than 80% dalits peoples have no knowledge about law, democracy, National International instruments or convention to remove caste discrimination, UDHR 1948, Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and practices Similar to Slavery 1956, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights 1966. The above mentioned Int. convention seriousness with which Bangladesh regards the issue of human rights promotion and protection is manifest in its accession ot or ratification of almost all the key international human rights instruments. Democracy is the key to ensuring human rights of all but dalits peoples
■ Economic under-development: According to the survey conducted by the parittran, Dalit peoples are involved in their family profession. Dalits since time immemorial have worked as blacksmiths, tailors, pig preventar, shoemakers and street cleaners. But because such professions are painstaking to be `dirty’. Dalits are not valued for doing their work, no matter how well they perform their services. The children of Dalit servants are also put to work as cattle herders, or they help their parents sanitary and cook. In return, they receive only minimum food and clothing. The conducted survey are revealed regarding their including Rishi (shoue maker, tenor processor), Kayputro (pig rarer), Karikar (cloth maker), Rajbanshi (Fisherman), Shil (barbarer), Munda (tribal) tradition professions and changed profession rate in sequence; Rishi – 82.84% & 20%, Pig rarer- 74% & 30%, Cloth maker (Tanti)- 64% & 36%, Fiserman- 81%, 19%, Barberar- 78%, 22%, Munda (Forest defender)- 84%, 16%.
■ Poor access to social justice: There are many dimension of human rights violence towards dalits peoples. They have limited access in local social justice. International Dalits Solidarity Network (IDSN) also said in their disclosed human rights report that, at least 65% dalits peoples have no accessibility into local justice system due to belonging in out caste. Recently Parittran monitored the human rights violation of dalits in southern side of Bangladesh. Mr. Nondo lal Das (Physical and mental disable man) have victimized by the local influential parties. Some perpetrators heat him by hot date juice and after this incident they have filed a complain to local police station but did not got proper trial (Daily Prothom Alo 7th Januarey 2010). It is proved that local public is not sensitized towards dalits. A dalits son late robin das (day laborer) was killed by higher caste and majority gang. Although they have filed case but result is not expected. The court has given belt of killer (24th January,10 Amader Samay, 25 January,10 Daily Prothom Alo). Otherwise, we (dalits) have no inclusion in the local arbitration process, any steering (standing) committee of local government. A dalits girl in jessore was victimized by gang raped and filed a case but have get same experience. Local & Political parties create pressure (9, 12, 15 July 2009, Daily Prothom Alo).
■ Limited access to public & private services and resources: Dalits peoples are discriminated and oppressed by the higher caste peoples and local government services and resources. Being out caste the public are not go into their community. This discrimination is still going on against them and they have great difficulties in having access to local resources. Parittran have experienced through conducted Base line survey in 2006, 2009 that Dalits are not allowed to govt. safetenate program, widow allowance, old age allowance, health service centre, bank loan due to their birth and hereditary profession.
■ No adequate information: Dalits are most vulnerable due to no adequate information on the services, fundamental rights, health service, income generating and agricultural related information etc. Parittran have implementing the project on Right to information from 2010 to enable to RTI practice of disadvantaged and marginalized community through using Participatory action research at Satkhira district by the support of Research initiatives of Bangladesh. This project has learning to possibility of complement RTI act in Bangladesh. The community peoples told during focus group discussion, we have no access into information. The large number of our community people have gone to immigrant and occupied their tradition profession due to have no sufficient information about another sources. National level NGO Manusher Jonno Foundation have said their yearly report that, information is power and it will begin the marginalized empowerment in Bangladesh.