Saturday, October 20, 2007

National GeographicMagazine Forum

UntouchablesThe caste system has been part of Indian culture for 1,500 years. For the Hindu-born, it means spending a lifetime as a member of one of several social classes ranging from elevated to so low in rank as to be considered subhuman. Although the Indian constitution makes caste discrimination illegal, these "Untouchables" are regularly subjected to indignity and atrocity. They are relegated to the most menial—and undesirable—jobs. Some live downwind of upper caste citizens who believe they must not smell them. For daring to demand their rights or step out of their place, Untouchables have been beaten, doused with acid, and even killed. Despite pressure from activist groups, perpetrators are rarely punished. How can outsiders help Untouchables in their fight against oppression? How can their situation be changed?


No comments: