The buffalo is the symbol for dalits. The painting is by Preetam Casimir.

The buffalo is the symbol for dalits. The painting is by Preetam Casimir.

An art and photography exhibit lifting the plight of the Dalits, or the former outcasts in India, took place at Sigtuna Kulturgård in Sigtuna. 

I and my six-year old daughter were there on the opening of “Voice of the Voiceless” in Sigtuna. The dalit painters and danish photographer, whose works were represented, were absent, but Sarianna Kranz from the gallery was there to enlighten us about the current situation of the Dalits.

In India, there is a caste system that grouped people together. There are four groups, and those who do not belong to those are outcasts, untouchables, ostracized. Today they are called dalits.

Help organisations have improved the quality of life of the dalits. But more support is needed.

There is actually an act that punishes atrocities against dalits, but it is hardly implemented, from what I have heard from Sarianna Kranz.

A photo taken by Jakob Carlsen. Dalits live outside villages, and among garbage.

A photo taken by Jakob Carlsen. Dalits live outside villages.

She told me for instance that there are still nine-year old dalit girls who are sent to become temple prostitutes. Once they reach teenage, they are thrown back to the streets as common prostitutes.

She mentioned that many rape cases involving dalit girls are hardly given attention and sympathy.

PS:  “Swades”, a film from 2004, gives a little glimpse of how it is to be an untouchable in modern time. Swades, meaning “we, the people” has become a cult film in India and is regarded as one of the best Bollywood films. I can recommend this film, just skip the musical scenes. 🙂