Caste systems are any ranked, hereditary, endogamous occupational groups that constitute traditional societies in certain regions of the world, particularly amongHindus in India. There, caste is rooted in antiquity and specifies the rules and restrictions governing social intercourse and activity for each group based on their occupation and social status. The different castes practiced mutual exclusion in many social activities, including eating, as well as marriage. In addition to the major castes, there also existed another group, the "outcastes," who were relegated to the worst occupations if any employment at all. Ranked below the castes, they were treated as sub-human—"unseeable" and "untouchable."
DefinitionWhile the Indian caste system is the most well-known, other cultures have had similar structures. While most are no longer in force, one common attribute, and one that persists despite official rulings against it, is the existence of an "outcaste" group. Those classified in this way, whether they be Dalit in India, Burakumin in Japan, or Baekjeong in Korea, have suffered discrimination throughout their history. While the caste system in general is no longer considered acceptable as it denies people many opportunities now considered human rights based on their lineage, it is those that suffer the greatest loss of rights and opportunity, the outcastes, for whom the caste system remains most strongly a reality.