India’s caste system is perhaps the world’s longest surviving social hierarchy, although it is officially abolished. Despite its constitutional abolition, and the guarantee that all people should be treated equally, Dalits, Adivasi and religious minorities suffer from discrimination and exclusion, often leading to violence, intimidation and human rights abuses. Mensen met een Missie bridges the divides between communities from different ethnic, religious and caste backgrounds. We respond to the injustices faced by the marginalised communities and prevent potential conflicts.
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Human rights violations
Indian society is divided into four main castes. Below that, we find the outcasts or untouchables. Dalits (outcasts) and Adivasi (indigenous groups) are the lowest in the caste hierarchy. Despite constitutional guarantees, the rights of millions of Dalits and Adivasi are not adequately protected. Centuries of discrimination, exploitation and oppression have left these people in dire poverty. They face human rights violations, mistreatment, (sexual) abuse and other atrocities. They have little knowledge of their rights nor the skills to defend them.
In addition, the political influence and dominance of Hindu fundamentalist groups is growing. This has resulted in the rise of violence and discrimination against religious minorities, such as Muslims and Christians who mostly consist of Dalits and Adivasis. Critical voices from journalists, academics and activists against exclusionist government policies and actions are actively repressed.
Dalits and Adivasi face human rights violations, mistreatment, (sexual) abuse and other atrocities. They have little knowledge of their rights nor the skills to defend them.
We, along with our local partners focus on promoting equality and inclusion of Dalits, Adivasi and religious minorities. We facilitate dialogue and inter-group action to bridge the historical divides between people of different caste, ethnicity and religion. We do this through:
Promoting peaceful coexistence
We promote peaceful coexistence between caste groups and between religious groups. We establish and facilitate local peace committees, which have proven to be instrumental in maintaining peace and transforming conflict at local level. Through these committees, trained women, youth and students are able to recognise and prevent conflicts.
We promote peacebuilding education in schools, conduct research on appropriate peacebuilding methods, and we facilitate dialogue within and between communities to foster peace. We collaborate with community and religious leaders to organize exchange visits between religious, ethnic and caste groups. Through such visits, participants representing different gender, caste and religious backgrounds get to know one another, their backgrounds, their stories, which leads to reduced prejudices. In addition, we also train local government officials on a constructive way to respond to conflicts and how to prevent conflicts from occurring in their localities.
Justice in the face of atrocities.
While we explore possibilities of reducing existing tensions, we respond to the serious injustices faced by Dalits, Adivasi and religious minorities. We train both male and female community leaders to provide basic legal aid to victims of sexual violence, land grabbing and ill-treatment at the hands of the higher castes, government officials and the police. We also support marginalised groups in legal claims for their entitlements.
Youth leaders learn how to design and implement their own actionable peacebuilding plan.
Although I was among the best in my class, I was often opposed. Studying seemed impossible. Thanks to Christy, I am now studying to become a police officer. So that I can intervene if the rights of other Adivasi are violated. – Siju (22)
Together with our local partners we have managed to:
- Establish over 200 Peace Committees amongst women, youth and students
- Raise the awareness of and promote peacebuilding among nearly 10.000 people
- Support approximately 1500 women, youth, students and religious leaders to design and implement their own actionable peacebuilding plan
- Conduct research on over 30 different peacebuilding methods
- Train over 450 people in conflict resolution. They have addressed and prevented over 200 conflicts from escalating
- Train 150 government officials on effective responses to conflict
- Support over 2.000 people in their claims for various entitlements.
Mensen met een missie
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