Milestone for Dalits

By May 15, 2009

(MNN) — An appeals court recently handed down a landmark ruling in favor of a
Dalit man, overruling a lower court.

The man had filed a case against a newspaper for defamation
after it falsely accused him of murder, said KP Yohannan with Gospel for Asia.  

The lower court judge ruled against the man, saying, "You are Dalit; you have
no reputation anyway, so don't worry about it," Yohannan explained. "Thank God, this went to the higher court,
and they said this is absolutely a violation of human rights, and a verdict was
given in his favor."

Yohannan hopes that this case will set a precedent for
thousands of cases involving Dalits. "This is one of the rare times that a higher court said, 'No,
you cannot abuse these people. They are human beings; they are not like
animals,'" Yohannan said. "I think this
is going to become an example…for tens of thousands of cases all over the country
that are filed, but no justice is given to these Dalits."

The Dalits comprise the lowest caste in India's caste system, as well as almost a
quarter of India's
population. Illiteracy and societal
rejection trap over 250 million people in severe poverty. They have no access to food, housing,
clothing, education or health care. 

Although India's
legal system no longer maintains the caste system, in reality the caste system continues to function. Bonded labor is prevalent among the Dalits, and even among
their children. 180 million Indian
children are trapped in a lifestyle of child labor. 

"These kids from age 4 and 5 work morning to night for
10, 11 cents a day… They are the children of the Dalits," Yohannan said. "And unless they get educated and liberated
and understand that they are human beings with rights, I think the future of this
nation is in such a huge crisis." 

Gospel for Asia is working
to help the Dalits. It has 42,000 children enrolled in its Bridge of Hope
program, which provides Christian education, medical care, school uniforms, and
a daily meal for them. Yohannan believes
this work is very important. 

"Jesus deeply, deeply cares about the poor and the
suffering," he said. "And I think often
we forget that God's judgment came upon a nation, upon a people, when they did
wrong to the innocent and the children and helpless." 

The court's decision encourages Yohannan that the country is
changin, and that there is a future for those children. "God is working behind the scene for the
Dalits, I believe," he said. 

You can help bring freedom to the Dalits by sponsoring a
child in Bridge
of Hope

Leave a Reply