Greetings from Arunthathiyar human rights forum (AHRF)
One day consultation on “Status of Arunthatiyar children in Tamil Nadu” at ICSA, Chennai on August 30, 2010
Tamil Nadu is also one of the states which has a high population of the Arunthatiyar community. Arunthathiyars are considered to be the lowest in the dalit hierarchy, the ‘Dalit among Dalits’ - the ‘untouchables’. It is one of the most oppressed, depressed and the poorest among the poor in the Indian Society. In Tamil Nadu, Arunthatiyars are densely concentrated in the western districts namely Coimbatore, Erode, Tirupur, Karur, Namakkal, Salem and Dharmapuri districts and loosely spread over in the other parts of the state. There are about 60,00,000 Arunthathiyars in Tamil Nadu. Their children are most exploited and abused and face discrimination at the hands of the upper caste community and lag behind or outside the sphere of quality education, health, development and participation. The United National Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) core principles of promoting survival, development, protection and participation of children still remain a distant reality for the Arunthatiyar children. The children face rampant discrimination and social exclusionary practices like the two tumbler system, forced to clean toilets in schools, calling them by derogatory names and treating them as untouchables takes these children deeper in the web of exploitation and marginalisation. The look of these children indicates that they are impoverished, malnourished and anaemic.
Within this context, Arunthatiyar Human Rights Forum (AHRF) has established itself as a state level human rights forum since 2005. It comprises of young Arunthatiyar activists working in 14 community based organisations across 12 districts in western Tamil Nadu. AHRF is working specifically towards creating awareness on discrimination and atrocities against Arunthatiyars; eradication of manual scavenging primarily associated with Arunthatiyars; fighting against the scourge of untouchability. The forum’s strategy has been to mobilise and empower the Arunthatiyar community through the following: document and report caste based atrocities faced by Arunthatiyars to National and State level Human rights Institutions; access to quality primary and higher education for Arunthatiyar children; forming thrift and credit societies towards sustainable economic stability and strengthening Arunthatiyar men and women’s political participation. It conducts periodic trainings and leads on research initiatives to gain a deeper understanding of the status of Arunthatiyar women and children in Tamil Nadu.
— To build and strengthen a State level Advocacy and Networking Forum to demand rights and entitlements for the Arunthatiyar community
— Undertake advocacy and lobbying particularly at State, National and International level to address violence, discrimination and exploitation of the Arunthatiyar community
— Assert the social, cultural and political identity of the Arunthatiyar community to ensure non-violation of their fundamental rights
In 2008, four research studies were commissioned by EveryChild through AHRF in order to understand the status of Arundhatiyar children in western Tamil Nadu on the following priority issues:
I. A study to understand the working conditions and context of Arunthatiyar bonded child labourers in Sathyamangalam Block, Erode district-Tamil Nadu
II. A study to understand the occupational impact on the children of manual scavengers from the Arunthatiyar community in Coimbatore, Erode, Ramanathapuram and Salem Districts-Tamil Nadu
III. A Study to understand the situation of Arunthatiyar girls employed under the Sumangali Thittam Scheme in Coimbatore, Dindigul, Erode, Tirupur, and Viruthunagar Districts-Tamil Nadu
IV. A study exploring the discrimination and caste based violence aimed at Arunthatiyar children in schools in Coimbatore, Erode, Ramanathapuram, Shivagangai and Tuticorin districts-Tamil Nadu.
In order to share the key findings and recommendations of the four studies and to pave the way forward, AHRF and EveryChild India invites you to attend the one day consultation on the Status of Arunthatiyar children in Tamil Nadu on August 30, 2010 at ICSA (Inter Church Service Association), Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The main objective of the consultation is to launch the four studies, participate in specific sessions on the four issues and suggest recommendations for specific advocacy and campaign on the four issues; strengthen AHRF’s initiatives to demand social justice for the Arunthatiyar community. Please find the concept note for the consultation attached with this invitation.
We request you to confirm your participation at the earliest-before 20th August, 2010
Contact Mr.Ganesh : 9865045020
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Thanks and regards,
Convenar , AHRF