India is a great nation. Full of vibrant colours, natural beauty, inspiring creativity, exciting tastes, rich heritage and exotic aromas, India is home to a variety of people groups, languages and cultures, philosophies and religions.
With a booming economy, not to mention growing telecommunication, motor, pharmaceutical and software industries, India - the world's largest democracy - is well on its way to becoming a superpower.
India is complex as well as diverse and, like many other countries, is still addressing some major problems including human trafficking and other forms of modern slavery.
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Modern Slavery is a global issue. According to retired Supreme Court judge Arijit Pasayat, human trafficking is the biggest problem facing India today. India has four or five times more victims of modern slavery than any other country in the world –
possibly up to 40% of the global total .
Modern slavery takes various forms in India including bonded labour, ritual sex slavery, trafficking into brothels, domestic labour, child beggar gangs or trafficking to be a bride or for the harvesting of body organs.
90% of trafficking in India is internal. As many as nine out of ten victims are from Dalit, tribal or other poor and marginalised communities.
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The word ‘Dalit’ means broken, crushed or ground down. Dalits, along with Adivasis (tribespeople), make up a quarter of India’s population.
Many still feel marginalised and excluded. Many live in extreme poverty stuck in the most menial and dehumanising jobs. This makes them especially vulnerable to exploitation.
Such inequality is one of the legacies of the caste system that traditionally gave structure to society in India, determining your ritual purity, your work or role, as well as who you can marry, and with whom you associate.
Dalits fell outside the caste system. They were considered so unclean that some people feared being contaminated through direct or even indirect contact. Hence Dalits were once known as Untouchables.
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Dalit Freedom Network UK is a trafficking prevention organisation working on behalf of Dalits in India, and is part of the Dalit Freedom Alliance, an international coalition of individuals and organisations that believe in social justice for Dalits, Tribals and other poor and marginalised communities in India.
We are responding to a request from Dalit leaders in India to work with them in addressing issues faced by their communities. Our work is guided and directed by our Indian partners.
We raise awareness in the UK about Dalit trafficking in India, lobby for change, and support trafficking prevention programmes led and staffed by our Indian partners Pratigya India. We provide a way for people in the UK to support the quest for dignity and hope.
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