Dalit Defenders: Rights and issues of Dalits in India

‘Dalit Defenders’ is a documentary by young German Filmmakers showing the issues of Dalits, the so-called untouchables, who are outside of the caste system. Dalit women are at the bottom of this hierarchy and in rural areas the widespread image of a Dalit woman is one of weakness. But there are many Dalit women who are not only defending their rights but also the rights of women and people in their communities.

The struggle of activists like Manjula Pradeep is encouraging. They stand up against traditions and break the silence: We are not weak and powerless! Giving voice to silence, and sharing experiences and struggles, is the impetus of the first documentary film by the Berlin filmmakers Fetch-media-team, which was produced in 2021 and covers a few states of India.

The total duration of the film is 1 hour and 25 minutes, but it has been shortened to 20 minutes for this seminar. The film was funded by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Germany.

After the screening, Manjula Pradeep will make a very brief presentation of the work undertaken by the two networks she is associated with: Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network (DHRDNet) and National Council of Women Leaders (NCWL). Her talk will focus on their recent campaigns which are against crimes based on honour, the implementation of the prevention of Atrocities Act, and caste-based sexual violence (including the ongoing campaign to end two finger tests against the survivors of sexual violence in India).

Watch the recording

About the Speaker

Manjula Pradeep, Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network (DHRDNet), National Council of Women Leaders (NCWL) and the WAYVE Foundation. She was listed by the BBC as one of the 100 inspiring and influential women 2021.


Deepta Chopra, SuPWR Principal Investigator, and IDS Research Fellow.