Suzy Livingstone, Surrey


Dalit women on the march.


On October 18, Dalit Freedom Network Canada hosted a women’s event entitled Touch the Heart of India. Committed women from around the Lower Mainland gathered to celebrate and learn more about India’s Dalit women. The feature of the evening was a presentation by Dr. Beryl D’souza, who came from India to share about one of her passions – the plight of Dalit women.


Dr. Beryl is the director of DFN’s Healthcare Initiative, a practicing pediatrician, and the director of the Anti-Human-Trafficking team. She spoke eloquently and realistically about the numerous horrific challenges facing untouchable women every day: rape, lack of access to education and healthcare, child marriage, HIV/AIDS, child labour, prostitution, and maternal mortality, to name a few. Dr. Beryl articulated that while the situation can seem desperate and even insurmountable, there is hope.


Dalit women across India are experiencing physical as well as spiritual freedom through the efforts of the young doctor and her team. Women are being given vocational training to offer them a viable alternative to selling their bodies or their children; girls are being educated to prevent them being exploited. Dr. Beryl stressed that we as Canadian women can be a part of this transformative work by giving of our time and finances, as well as by sharing the story of the Dalits with others around us.



Touch the Heart of India offered women many ways to contribute towards this work, whether by purchasing handicrafts made by empowered Dalit women, sponsoring a Dalit girl to go to elementary school, or join a local group committed to raising funds towards a project. The evening was a great success, with women leaving both more aware of how blessed we are to live in Canada, and also believing that we have a role to play in the emancipation of women around the world.


(Suzi Livingstone; Dalit Freedom Network Canada; 604-773-4448;


(Supplied by Jai Birdi)

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