Dalit Freedom Network: Touching the Untouchable Women of India

Who are the Dalits?  They are known as “untouchables”.  Born into the lowest socio-economic class in India’s oppressive caste-system, these people live under the unrelenting fear of discrimination, dehumanization, segregation, and violence–every day.  Dalit women and children are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation and human trafficking. 

According to the Dalit Freedom Network (DFN), Dalits are history’s longest standing oppressed people group and the largest numbers of people on earth categorized as victims of modern-day slavery. Dalits are still considered subhuman, contaminating to others, worthy of being outcasted, and untouchable.

DFN represents a vast network of justice-minded, modern-day abolitionists committed to bringing freedom to history’s longest standing oppressed people group.  A group of more than 250 million people–a shocking number estimated at 25 percent of India’s 1.2 billion population.

According to Ana Aspras Steele, President of Dalit Freedom Network USA, “Despite being one of the longest-oppressed groups in human history, the Dalits or ‘untouchables’ of India face a hopeful future in their fight for equal rights”.  That’s because of organizations like DFN, socially and morally responsible advocate networks and individuals that believe that every human being has the right to life, freedom, and dignity. She invites “all justice-minded Americans to join the present ground-swelling, worldwide campaign for Dalit freedom”.

Dalit Freedom Network partners with the Dalits in their quest for freedom, justice, and human dignity by mobilizing human, intellectual, and financial resources -DFN Mission Statement

They are a human rights, non-government organization that partners with the Dalit people in India.  Their goal?  To help end Dalit injustices, such as human trafficking, gender and caste discrimination, child labor–and, to “make slavery history in India”.

How Can You Touch a Dalit Woman or Child? 

These are just some of the very practical, personal and tangible ways you can help a Dalit woman or child this holiday season.  (You can review several more options on the DFN website).

Sewing Maching, Table & Chair – A simple sewing machine, table, and chair will change the lives of many Dalit women. This equipment allows one woman to start her own tailoring business and gradually pay for the machine into a revolving fund so other women may receive a similar opportunity. ($150 suggested price)

Tools & Supplies to Accompany a Sewing Machine – This kit includes basic tailoring tools and cloth for one woman in a tailoring center, enabling her to begin learning and practicing her new trade immediately. ($50 suggested price)

Supplies for a Salon – Dalits are not welcome in upper caste beauty salons because of the stigma of “Untouchability.” DFN’s partners train Dalit women in beauty and hair treatments. The women then receive a set of supplies to start their own home-based salon that can generate income and meet a need in the community. ($25 suggested price)

Free a Dalit Child – This is DFN’s most critical need and the way you can make the most immediate impact.  There are more children in India than any other country in the world. Every day many of them live in acute danger of being trafficked, maimed, or sold into slavery. Learn more about this project.

Holiday Matching Fund Challenge – During this holiday season, you can double your gift of education to unsponsored Dalit children through DFN.  

More Ways to Give: To donate airline miles, stocks or mutual funds, email: accounting@dalitnetwork.org or Support Dalit women through DFN by trading on eBay

DFN’s International President, Dr. Joseph D’souza has written two books: “Dalit Freedom Now and Forever: The Epic Struggle for Dalit Emancipation”, and “On the Side of the Angels: Justice, Human Rights and Kingdom Mission”, and also writes a blog about Seeking to Transform Lives & Communities in India.

Visit the Dalit Freedom Network Website

Additional Reading:

History of the Dalit Freedom Network

Dalit women find their voice through a newspaper – Los Angeles Times

Untouchable – National Geographic Magazine

As promised, I will be highlighting organizations throughout the remainder of the year that offer unique ways to give the gifts of love, joy and hope to women and girls in need. Share the true spirit of Christmas and, spread the love… Tell a friend! 

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

(Photos by the Dalit Freedom Network)

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Comments

  1. Wonderful article, keep up the good/God work.

    • April McCallum says:

      Thank you for reading, David. Like Mother Teresa said: “I cannot do everything, but I can do something” and, “If you can’t feed (or, cloth, encourage, pray for, help) a hundred people, than feed just one”. I think it’s about lighting the candles that have burned out, or at least, putting the candle in someone’s hand who really needs it.

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