Leather work is seen in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan as dirty and undesirable. Many of the people who work in the industry – and in India the overall majority – occupy marginalised places in society and often lack any other livelihood option. They are vulnerable to exploitation and have little if any possibility of moving forward in work or in life to break the cycle of poverty and discrimination for themselves or their children.
A specific connection between caste and the leather industry can be identified, while a religious aspect is present as well, especially in India. Since religious minorities face many challenges in these three countries, the interlinkages between caste, religion, and leather work cannot be ignored when looking at discriminatory practices in the industry in these countries.
This paper shows that caste and related discriminatory practices, at times specifically interlinking with religion, are high risk factors for businesses that source leather or leather products from India, Bangladesh, or Pakistan. It explains how caste-based and religious-based discrimination presents itself in these countries and how this connects to the leather industry.