Multiply Justice

The largest group of oppressed and enslaved people on earth

Galen C. Dalrymple writes on Patheos:

The sins of Girdharilal Maurya are many, his attackers insisted. He has bad karma. Why else would he, like his ancestors, be born an Untouchable, if not to pay for his past lives? Look, he is a leatherworker, and Hindu law says that working with animal skins makes him unclean, someone to avoid and revile. And his unseemly prosperity is a sin. Who does this Untouchable think he is, buying a small plot of land outside the village? Then he dared speak up, to the police and other authorities, demanding to use the new village well. He got what Untouchables deserve.

One night, while Maurya was away in a nearby city, eight men from the higher Rajput caste came to his farm. They broke his fences, stole his tractor, beat his wife and daughter, and burned down his house. The message was clear: Stay at the bottom where you belong. – National Geographic

If you were to venture a guess as to the largest group of oppressed and enslaved people in a single nation on the face of the earth in the 21st century, what people group do you think would wear that dubious title? Would it be people who were being persecuted because of their faith or race in the Middle East or Southeastern Asia? Would it be those who have a substandard education and are prevented from learning and developing their skills and abilities to become contributing members of society in sub-Saharan Africa? Would it be the indigenous peoples of Australia’s outback?

The correct answer the Dalit people of India, the largest group of enslaved people in the world. India is a crowded country, boasting a population of approximately 1.2 billion persons. Nearly one-quarter, 250 million of those people, are Dalits. Who are the Dalits? The Dalits were historically called the “untouchables”…those in India who were not even considered high enough to be part of the caste system, but were below the lowest level of caste.

… There are an estimated 250 million Dalits in India, nearly one quarter of India’s 1.2 billion people. They are, according to some, the longest standing group of oppressed people in history. … The Dalits comprise the largest number of people categorized as victims of human trafficking and enslavement in any single nation on the face of the earth. …

The word Dalit means “broken to pieces”, ground”, “suppressed”, or “crushed.” Systematically, the Dalits are ground down and crushed by discrimination. How bad is the oppression? Consider: Dalits will not live on the eastern side of a village because it is believed that if even their shadow were to fall upon a non-Dalit, the non-Dalit would be polluted.

Read the rest of the article here.

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