Dalit woman scholar from Karnataka appointed UNHRC Special Rapporteur

October 19, 2022 10:08 pm | Updated 10:08 pm IST - Bengaluru

K.P. Ashwini is a Dalit scholar from Kurabarahalli village, Kolar district.

K.P. Ashwini is a Dalit scholar from Kurabarahalli village, Kolar district. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

K.P. Ashwini, a Dalit scholar whose roots are in Kurabarahalli in Kolar district, has been appointed Special Rapporteur for United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC). She is the first Indian and Asian woman to be appointed to this post.

The Geneva-based 47-member UN human rights body has endorsed Dr. Ashwini’s appointment.

An Ambedkarite and a PhD scholar from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Ms. Ashwini is planning to address issues such as racism and casteism, now also increasingly on social media platforms.

Forms of intolerance

“My basic mandate is racism, xenophobia, and issues related to various forms of intolerance. I will focus on apartheid, racism, region-based discrimination, Islamophobia, discrimination against the migrants, and so on. I will particularly focus on racism on Indian diaspora community in the U.S. and discrimination on migrants workers in West Asia,” she said.

“Explicitly the issue of caste is not my mandate, but caste is keenly related to the racism. The caste system is strongly operating in the U.S. Indian diaspora. Race and caste are complementary. We can see caste based matrimony groups in the U.S. and the U.K., and caste-based violence. There is a separate Ravidas Gurudwara in the U.K.,” she explained, adding that there is a strong need to address issues of gender-based racism and xenophobia. “The racism faced by the African women is different from others. The struggles of the Muslim women is different. So, I am very much interested in looking at gender issues in racism,” she said.

Social media platforms

In the present context, Ms. Ashwini is also keen to address the issues of how the social media is being used to spread and amplify hate. “Dalit women, African women, and Muslim women are often targets. Death and rape threats are normal. I plan to address these issues in UNHRC,” Ms. Ashwini told The Hindu.

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