Jakob Carlsen, Freelance
"Untouchables of Asia" Throughout asia the untouchables (Dalits) are the lovest ranging citizens. Dalit means Broken People and is the name the untouchables have chosen for themselves. Globally 270 million people are subjected to the dehumanising practises linked to untouchability and caste discrimination. They are considered lesser human beings and are prevented from participating in political, economic, social and cultural life on an equal footing with other citizens.
In India they make up a fifth of the population of around a billion people, but also the neighboring countries have large numbers of dalits. According to Hinduism they are unclean, untouchable and polluted because of something they did in a former life and they are now paying the price by living a life where they are worth less than cows in the Indian society. The practice of untouchability is forbidden by law in India more than 50 years ago, but caste discrimination is still common all over India and Asia. They are forced to do ”unclean” jobs. Handling dead bodies, sorting garbage, cleaning up toilets, working in quarrys and as coolies. The untouchables live in their own settlements on the outskirts of every village. They are not allowed to live close to the caste people, they cannot use their well and even though they are Hindus they cannot enter the temples. They are regarded so unclean that caste people won´t even drink the milk from a cow belonging to an untouchable.
Being untouchables is something you inherit from your parents and there are no ways out or up the ladder of the caste system. Children are forced to take over the jobs of their parents either by use of force or because they can not get any other work and so have to choose between doing the ”unclean” badly paid work or starve.