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Documenting Cases Of Discrimination To End Untouchability
Written by Rezwan On 23 April 2013 @ 23:56 pm | 1 Comment
In Citizen Media, Digital Activism, English, Ethnicity & Race, Human Rights, India, Protest, Religion, South Asia, Video, Weblog
Video Volunteers , an international media and human rights NGO, is promoting community videos to document and highlight plights of the marginalized and poor communities around the world. On the 14th of April 2012, Video Volunteers launched the ARTICLE 17 campaign which involved documenting video testimonies of different forms of untouchability by Community Correspondents across the country and taking actions. This 14 April, 2013 marks the first anniversary of the campaign against the discrimination against the so called “untouchables.”
Untouchability  is a form of discrimination, the social-religious practice of ostracizing a minority group by segregating them from the mainstream by social custom or legal mandate. The term is used in India to talk about the public treatment of especially the Dalit communities, who face work and descent-based discrimination at the hands of the dominant Hindu castes .
Although untouchability has been made illegal in post-independence India, Dalits  and other scheduled castes  substantially empowered, prejudice against them are seen in the society, especially in rural areas.
Video Volunteers director Stalin K.  provides a background of the campaign to end untouchability:
Ten Years ago, I started on a journey to document practices of untouchability across several states and religions of India. 25,000 kilometres, 9,000 minutes of footage and four years later, I put together a documentary called India Untouched . The main reason for making this film was to challenge the belief of most Indians that untouchability is a thing of the past.
Article 17 of the Indian Constitution states that “Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.” However, society continues to look at untouchability as a social given, grounded in ‘tradition’. Instead, we should see such practices for what they are: criminal acts.
The documenting initiative started in 2010 (see Global Voices report ). The Community Correspondents of Video Volunteers have so far produced a series of 30 videos which documented untouchability practices across the nation. Here are a few examples:
The Untouchable Well : The Dalit community is only allowed to drink water drawn from the one chosen “untouchable” well in the village. Video by Video Volunteers
Untouchability in Shops:  Dalits are not allowed to enter shops even if they are paying customers. They have to either throw their money into the hands of the “upper” caste shopkeepers without touching them or leave the money on the floor. Goods touched by Dalits are purified by putting them once through a burning flame. Video by Video Volunteers
Untouchability Captured and Ended on Camera:  The video chronicled married Dalit women in the village removing their slippers and holding it in their hands as they crossed an “upper caste” neighborhood. The combined efforts of the Community Correspondent on the ground, the over 5000 people who signed the petition (DM) online and the national zeitgeist created by the TV show, persuaded the DM and the Superintendent police to personally visit the village to conduct a public hearing condemning the practice. The people promised the DM that there will no more complaints from the village. The practice was declared ‘abolished.’ Video by Video Volunteers
You can watch the whole set of videos from this Youtube channel . A petition campaign  has started to ask the National Commission for Schedule Castes (NCSC) to take action against the documented violations.
Shekhar  comments on the videos at India Unheard Blog:
After watching all these videos, I came to know that my view that the caste system in India is weakened to some extent is wrong and totally a blunder. I am forced to grasp that it is still rampant and deeply rooted.
Here are some Twitter reactions on the untouchability situation in India:
Shraddha Upadhyay (@shraddha48 ), a blogger from Gwalior tweets:
Community Media (@babasaheb_org ) writes:
Stalin  ends his post with:
It’s time we accepted that the practice of untouchability is not the vestigial remains of some backward, social phenomenon or tradition: it’s a criminal offence. Let’s start calling it what it is.
Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org
URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/04/23/documenting-cases-of-discrimination-to-end-untouchability/
URLs in this post:
 Video Volunteers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_volunteers
 Untouchability: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Untouchability
 dominant Hindu castes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanskritisation
 Image: http://www.demotix.com/photo/1557266/pictures-indias-untouchables
 Dalits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalit
 scheduled castes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheduled_caste
 Stalin K.: http://www.videovolunteers.org/a-criminal-state-of-affairs/
 India Untouched: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgDGmYdhZvU
 Global Voices report: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/05/29/india-video-giving-a-voice-to-marginalised-communities/
 The Untouchable Well: http://youtu.be/4vVbtedA-wk
 Untouchability in Shops:: http://youtu.be/FI3j2RZ1oE4
 Untouchability Captured and Ended on Camera:: http://youtu.be/6DzJDo_ynS0
 Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE06152F19E8D1AAB
 petition campaign: http://www.change.org/petitions/dr-p-l-punia-chairperson-ncsc-prosecute-these-30-untouchability-offences-article17
 Shekhar: http://indiaunheard.videovolunteers.org/anti-untouchability/comment-page-1/#comment-32724
 @shraddha48: https://twitter.com/Shraddha48
 @shraddha48: https://twitter.com/Shraddha48/status/323831443581198337
 http://t.co/GtZRde1ndz: http://t.co/GtZRde1ndz
 @babasaheb_org: https://twitter.com/babasaheb_org
 @babasaheb_org: https://twitter.com/babasaheb_org/status/321504962075058176
 http://fb.me/1D1WAjT2l: http://fb.me/1D1WAjT2l
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