KATHMANDU, JANUARY 23: Civil Hospital has formed a probe committee to investigate the death of journalist LB Bishwokarma on Sunday. According to the administration of Civil Hospital, a four-member probe committee has been formed in the leadership of Dinesh Kumar Lamsal, head of the Emergency Department to study the death of journalist Bishwokarma. The team includes under secretary Krishna Sapkota, section officer Bhesh Raj Ghimire and chief of Cash Counter Bhesh Bahadur Basnet.
With the news of journalist Bishwokarma’s death criticism has been pouring in against the management of the Civil Hospital saying that the deceased journalist could be saved if the hospital had taken proper care.
The umbrella organisation of all the Nepali journalists Federation of Nepali Journalists, Press Council Nepal and many other organisations related to journalists have been demanding a probe into the sudden death of journalist Bishwokarma claiming that the life of a young journalist could not be saved due to the negligence of the hospital administration.
Incidents of discrimination haven’t decreased due to lax implementation of law, according to national rights body.People from the Dalit community, who already lacked access to the justice system, were further deprived from justice due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Nepal was declared a nation free of caste-based discrimination and untouchability 15 years ago, but the Dalit community continues to suffer from discrimination and hate crime.
Reports by various organizations advocating for Dalit rights show that the people from the community have become more vulnerable to discrimination during the pandemic.
“The crisis impacts the marginalized community the most,” Pradip Pariyar, executive chairperson of Samata Foundation, an organisation advocating for the rights of Dalit community, told the Post. “This was apparent from the experience of Covid-19 pandemic in the first wave and the situation is worsening in the second wave.”
Dalit right activists say an overwhelming number of people from the community experienced discrimination during the pandemic and the problem was even more serious among women.
A survey conducted by the foundation among 1,500 people from the Dalit community showed some 18 percent of them faced discrimination during the pandemic. Similarly, an assessment conducted by Feminist Dalit Organisation showed 48 percent of Dalit women experienced caste-based discrimination last year while 30 percent experienced domestic violence.
People from the Dalit community, who already lacked access to the justice system, were further deprived of justice due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
The National Human Rights Commission has a similar observation. The constitutional human rights watchdog says despite the constitutional and legal guarantee against caste-based discrimination, incidents of discrimination haven’t decreased due to their lax implementation.
“The cases of murder, assault, torture, social exclusion, and denial of state facilities continue against the people from the Dalit community in the lack of effective implementation of the legal shield against such practices,” said Tika Ram Pokharel, spokesperson at the commission. “We are concerned over the impunity in the cases related to caste-based discrimination and untouchability.”
The Constitution of Nepal provides protection against any form of discrimination. Caste Based Discrimination and Untouchability (Offence) Act-2011 and the Criminal Code, which came into effect in 2018, have made discrimination a punishable offense.
However, the survey of Samata Foundation shows that out of 78 cases of caste-based discrimination reported in the fiscal year 2019/20, only 40 cases were reported to the authority. Moreover, perpetrators were convicted in just 10 percent of the reported cases.
“Complaints from the Dalit community are hardly heard,” Pariyar said. “Even if they are registered, police files weak cases in the court of law leading to a low conviction rate.”
Court proceedings when it comes of cases of discrimination are also slow.
For instance, the district court of Rukum (West) is yet to announce its verdict in the killings of six youths in Soti village of Chaurjahari Municipality in May last year. Although the accused individuals are in judicial custody, the families of the victims are yet to get justice.
Binod Pahadi, a former lawmaker and a Dalit Right activist, says the discriminatory state mechanism is largely responsible for the continued discrimination against Dalits.
“The government has made no attempts to address the concerns of the marginalised communities even when they have been affected the most amid this pandemic,” he told the Post.
The survey by Samata Foundation, which covers the period between March to December last year, also shows that 45 percent of people from the Dalit community faced jobs cuts due to the pandemic. Similarly, nearly 82 percent of the survey participants reported financial distress due to the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions imposed to contain the virus spread.
There has not been any substantial improvement in the condition of Dalits, like their social status, economic condition, literacy and employment rates, access to land ownership and justice, according to the report by the foundation.
Dalit rights activists say the government must establish a Dalit cell in all police station to look into the cases relating to the community. They also recommend that each district’s court should have separate bench so that the cases related to caste-based discrimination and untouchability are swiftly decided.
Dalit rights activists have also called for the formation of monitoring committees in all national human rights institutions to monitor cases of caste-based discrimination.
“Government’s responsibility should not be limited to issuing reports and statements,” Pahadi said. “It should walk the talk, work proactively towards ending all forms of discrimination.”
Biru Nepali- KATHMANDU: Jagaran Media Centre has organised its 22nd annual general assembly on Thursday here in Kathmandu. The assembly chaired by its chairperson and member of Constituent Assembly Kamala Bishwokarma has assessed the programmes of the organisation and discussed the further strategy and work plan to achieve its objectives.
Officials of the JMC said the media centre has completed historic programmes in the past including its continuous support in different movements including Dalit related struggles and developing Dalit journalists besides enhancing their skills. JMC was in the forefront in raising the issues of Dalits and other marginalised communities through different media and therefore they stressed on the need to keep records of its contribution.
According to its member’s collective effort, cooperation and mutual respect will help democratise the organisation and help to make it inclusive and develop a system and it also helps in personal growth as well as in organisational development.
The participating members of the JMC have pointed out that they have to face newer challenges with the change in problems. They also hailed the JMC’s activities to lobby for the right of Dalit and other marginalized communities and suggested for widening such activities.
Advisor of JMC and researcher JB Bishwokarma said collective effort is essential to speed up its activities to develop it as a common organisation.
Saying that JMC has created healthy discussions on Nepali Dalit movement through media Bishwokarma said JMC has played a crucial role to establish the issue of Dalit inclusion in the media and to increase the number of Dalit journalists in the media.
During the general assembly, General Secretary Bhim Bahadur Ghimire had briefed about the ongoing programmes of the organisation for the fiscal year 2077-78 BS.
Treasurer Shushil Darnal presented income and expenditure of the fiscal year 2077-78 BS. He said the total income of JMC in the fiscal year was Rs 9.216 million among which Rs 9.083 was received from donor agencies and remaining from internal funds. The expenditure for the fiscal year was Rs 7.798 million.
Addressing the function Chairperson Kamala Bishwokarma had thanked all those who contributed to bring the JMC to this stage including the founding members and advisors. “There are a host of challenges to run the organisation but we should take it as an opportunity,” Bishwokarma said. “We are planning to run the JMC with a new plan and vision.”
The JMC is a non-governmental organisation established in 2000 by the journalists representing Dalit communities. Ever since its establishment the JMC has been advocating to mainstream various social, cultural, economic and political issues of Dalit in the mainstream through media. It has been utilising various media including radio, television programmes, online, newspaper, and social media networks in its bid to create a just and equitable society ending caste-based discrimination from the society.
KATHMANDU: An award-winning scholar, prolific social entrepreneur Dr Bishnu Maya Pariyar has been awarded with New Jersey-11 hero.
The program to honor heroes was introduced by the member of the lower house representing the New Jersey 11th Congressional district — Mikie Sherrill.
A Democratic Party member of the US House Sherrill had assumed office in January 2019. This honor was awarded to those who played a crucial and inspiring role to combat pandemics in the communities.
Among which Dr Pariyar was selected from the Nepali community, according to Sherrin’s office. Heroes were selected from among the teachers, health workers, volunteers, and first responders.
Her colleague Sandy Hecker had nominated Dr Pariyar, one of the most admired Nepali-American personalities, for the honor.
Also the coordinator of Gender and Domestic Violence program Dr Pariyar had played an inspiring role in combating pandemic in Nepal. She was honored by different organizations for her contribution to fight coronavirus.
In 2015 the City of Louisville, Kentucky honored September 27 as “Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar Day” by Mayor Greg E. Fischer for her outstanding social contribution.
Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar’s life-struggle story has been featured in a higher education textbook, ‘The Writer’s Mindset’ by Dr. Lisa Wright Hoeffner which was published by one of the world’s top publications, McGraw Hill in 2021.
Dr. Pariyar’s brain-child social integration organization, ADWAN aims to foster a measure of economic independence, to boost self-esteem, dignity and to instill solidarity among diverse communities and build a sense of national pride.
Through her dedication and passion for the marginalized and Dalit community-the so-called low-caste or untouchable people, Dr. Pariyar has overcome tremendous obstacles of gender, caste discrimination, and poverty in Nepal as well as challenges that emerged because of socio-economic inequality and exclusion.
In the years 2020 and 2021, as Coronavirus devastated the community in the United States and around the world, Dr. Pariyar has been in the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic relief assistance program to needy Nepali and South Asian American community and international students.
Dr. Pariyar was conferred with honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) from her alma mater, Pine Manor College, MA for her pioneer social contribution.
KATHMANDU: Annual social audit of Jagaran Media Center concluded here on Thursday amid a function attended by Dalit leaders, activists, and journalists.
During the function, the officials had briefed about the ongoing projects carried out by the organization besides its income and expenditures of the fiscal year 2077-78 BS.
Account officer of Jagaran Media Center Prabha Pariyar informed that the total income of the organization was 9.21 million while the expenditure was 7.79 million in the last year.
At the function program manager, Anju Kandel presented the progress report of the organization. Speakers of the program hailed the efforts of Jagaran Media Center on lobbying for the Dalit and other marginalized communities and had suggested that the Centre should widen its field.
“We have conducted the annual social audit to ensure social responsibility, accountability, transparency, and good governance and the organization will continue it every year,” said Chairperson of the JMC, Kamala Bishwokarma, who is also a member of the Constituent Assembly. “Legal awareness and implementation of law will be the focus of JMC now.”
Another key official of the Center, General Secretary Bhim Ghimire had conducted the program in which treasurer Sushil Darnal gave a welcome speech.
During the program member of Bagmati Provincial Assembly Maina Achhami, information officer of District Coordination Committee of Kathmandu Madhu Khanal, Nepali Congress leader Rajan Bishwokarma, Chairman of Dalit Sewa Sangh Ishwori Bishwokarma, Bal Maya Bishwokarma of Juri Nepal, journalists Ramita Yadav and Binod Pariyar had suggested JMC to continue with the media campaign for proper implementation of existing laws right from the lower levels.
BIRU NEPALI-BUTWAL: Minister of Health and Population Lumbini Province Indrajit Tharu said the Dalit community has to face disgrace because of the feudal thinking and capitalist structure of the society. Tharu said the constitution has clearly mentioned Dalit’s right but there was problem in its implementation. While addressing at the discussions with stakeholders on the bill about Dalit empowerment organized by Jagaran Media Centre last week he said the government was positive on drafting separate law to ensure rights of Dalits. He also asked the participants to suggest lack of laws on which specific sectors have affected the implementation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the Dalit community. “The presence of Dalit community is seen at the parliament and the governments just because the constitution has made the representation mandatory,” Tharu said. “Since Dalit community has been underprivileged in every sector including economic, social, and health a special provision should be made for them.”
He also said there is an urgent need of creating awareness among other communities to end the discrimination and other bad traditions.
Member of the Constituent Assembly Binod Pahadi said the Dalit empowerment bill was essential to resolve the problems of Dalits at the Lumbini province and also to send message to the country. Members of Lumbini Provincial Assembly Deepa Bishworkarma and Jalpa Bhusal also expressed their commitment for the separate law for Dalit empowerment.
Rupandehi Secretary of CPN (Unified Socialist) Abiram Bishwokarma, advocate Padam Bahadur Karki and Dalit leaders Lok Bahadur Nepali, Arjun Rasaili, Sabitra Bishwokarma, Yam Bahadur Sunar, Ram Bahadur Bishwokarma, Sumitra Baral, Kanti Pariyar, Sabi BK had presented their views among others. Chaired by Lumbini coordinator of Jagaran Media Center Binod Pariyar, the interaction was conducted by Ambika Pariyar.
KATHMANDU: Chandre Kami, a Dalit youth who was missing from December 15 after an intercaste marriage, was found at Gupchegaunda of Kharpunath Rural Municipality on Wednesday, according to Police.
According to police officials, Kami was found safe and they were investigating the case.
This is yet another serious case of blatant human rights violations in which a youth was kidnapped by the relatives of a girl who decided to elope with a boy saying he belongs to a ‘lower caste’.
Kami, a resident of Jairko Natta of Sarkegad Rural Municipality-1 of Humla district, who had married a girl of a different caste, was reported missing on December 15.
According to his family members, he was taken away along with Ramila Malla, who is known as Suntali, a resident of Lipru village situated at Soru Rural Municipality-1 of Mugu district.
They have been claiming that he was taken away by a group of 13 people including Malla’s father Bir Bahadur Malla thrashing him in midnight on December 15.
They were claiming that the girl’s relatives had taken her while kidnapping Kami. Suntali, 17, had eloped with Kami,18, on November 21 therefore her people had kidnapped him.
Locals said a team of 30 members led by Deputy Superintendent of Police Heramba Sharma were deployed to search Kami but his whereabouts have not been found yet.
It takes 12 hours-walk from the district headquarters to reach Sarkegad Rural Municipality.
Knowing that their marriage won’t be accepted by the girl’s family, they were residing at a neighbouring village. They had reached Kami’s home only on December 14 and the other day he was kidnapped while the girl was taken home.
Locals have said that Kami had met Suntali three years ago when he was working at a hotel in Mugu and they both were in love thereafter.
The ward chairman of Sarkegad Rural Municipality-1 Gokul Budha had told the media that he had rejected the request of Kami to register his marriage because both of them were below 20. “I heard that the girl’s people had taken both of them on December 15 thrashing the boy,” Budha said.
KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 10: Speakers of a program have said an awareness revolution was essential to end all kinds of discrimination rampant in society.
Lawmakers and journalists have pointed out that various forms of discrimination against women, Dalits, and other marginalized communities are still rampant in society due to the lack of proper awareness among the people despite having the necessary policy, rules and laws.
They have made such comments at a function entitled “Situation of Gender-based Violence and Role of lawmakers” organized by Jagaran Media Centre on Thursday to commemorate the 73rd International Human Rights Day and as part of the 30th 16-day campaign against gender-based violence.
The speakers have expressed concern over the connection of religious, cultural, social and political aspects in the discriminations and violence against women and other communities which impedes their access to justice.
Presenting her paper at the function former commissioner of the National Information Commission Yashoda Timsina said very few applications were filed against gender-based violence despite the incidents are increasing, it is very difficult for the victims of such cases to get justice and they also lack awareness of legal provisions. She said some existing laws were also not sufficient and even they are not properly implemented.
Addressing the function, a member of the National Assembly Khim Kumar BK said there were laws to address the discrimination against women, Dalit, and other marginalized communities but they could not be implemented in practice.
He said some laws need amendment while more laws are necessary to address the existing problems of discrimination for which he was sensitive and working for it.
Member of the Bagmati Provincial Assembly Maina Achhami said there was an urgent need to take the awareness campaign against gender-based violence at the community level.
Speaking at the function rights activists Mina Swornakar said lawmakers do not raise voices on rape, murder, the violence of children and women. She said the silence against such brutality was the result of their connection with parties, class, ethnicity, and religion, on the basis of which discrimination against women, Dalit, and other marginalized groups are rampant in the society. All the speakers said that Dalit women suffer the most from both gender-based violence and caste-based discrimination.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
In support of this civil society initiative, the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign) calls for global actions to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts, and share knowledge and innovations.
The global theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which will run from 25 November to 10 December 2021, is “Orange the world: End violence against women now!”
During the interaction chaired by Kamala Bishwokarma, chair of the Jagaran Media Centre, rights activists Rajan Bishwokarma, Kalpana Bishwokarma, peoples’ representative of Lalitpur Metropolitan City-14 Sangita Achhami, Chairperson of Youth Advocacy Forum Narendra Khatiwada, advocate of Juri Nepal Bal Maya Bishwokarma, Rajkumari Dura of Nepal Disable Women Association, Anjila Lama of Blue Diamond Society, Student leader Rajan Nepali and journalists Laxman Darnal, Kamala Rasaili and Keshab Bhul had presented their views on various forms of violence and discrimination.
Enumerators say they found many families who were not keen to disclose their last names fearing eviction.
“I am a Dalit,” the 41-year-old said. “I am afraid that I will be asked to vacate the room if I reveal my surname.”
According to him, there are many Dalits in Kathmandu living in rented accommodations who fear they could be removed from their rooms and apartments if their landlords’ found out their surnames.
“They usually don’t disclose their last names or they use something else as their surnames, like those which are considered ‘upper caste’,” Laxman said.
For the fear of being evicted by his landlords, Laxman provided wrong details of all five of his family members, who have been living in Baneshwar for the last six years, to the enumerators.
“There is no option. To be honest, we lied about our last name when we sought accommodation in this house,” he said.
Sabita (also not her true name) has been living in Kirtipur for the last six years. The 44-year-old, who hails from Biratnagar, said her house owner knows her family as “kshetris”, one of the groups of “higher” castes in Nepal.
“There are four of us,” she said. “We have not revealed our actual caste before the house owner, so we did not tell the enumerators also.”
The national census was conducted from November 11 to November 25.
Enumerators say such a tendency of lying about castes by the Dalits was more common in urban areas.
For decades, Nepal has struggled to abolish caste-based discrimination and untouchability. When the Civil Act 1963 was introduced, its biggest focus was to make caste-based discrimination a punishable offence. The Untouchability and Discrimination Act, promulgated in 2011, and the Constitution of Nepal both provide clear protections for Dalits.
In May last year, Nabaraj BK and his five friends were killed and dumped into the Bheri river in Rukum (West) by a group of people from the so-called upper caste. BK had fallen in love with an ‘upper caste’ girl and her family was extremely unhappy that the boy was a Dalit.
Cases of discrimination rarely get to court and when they do reach the court, justice delivery is delayed. Even if they result in convictions, the offenders are given small fines or minimal jail time of a few months.
The trial for the Rukum (West) mass murder is still underway, more than a year since the incident.
The practice of caste-discrimination is so rife in the country that Dalits still continue to face problems when it comes to finding accommodations.
Bikas Khadka, an enumerator, said the reluctance to reveal surnames could hugely mirserepsent the Dalit community in the final census report.
“In around 200 houses that I visited, we found Dalits to have been using surnames like Risal, Ghimire, Sharma and Sapkota, among others,” he said.
Khadka, who was deployed in the Kalanki area for census data collection, said one of the families initially said their surname was ‘Sharma’ and later asked it to be changed to ‘Tamang’.
“But the daughter in the family suggested they belonged to the Dalit community,” Khadka said.
Khadka said he entered the surname that the family head told him.
Another enumerator deployed in the Kuleshwar area said she also faced problems while collecting details from the households as there were many families that did not want to reveal their surnames.
She visited around 250 houses in the area, she said.
“When asked about their surnames, they would say ‘just write the names, why do you need our caste,” she said. “When I tried to convince them that they should disclose their last names, some families said the society thinks lowly of them if they say they are Dalits.”
Some Dalit families, according to enumerators, however, revealed their surnames in private when the house owners were not around.
In the 2011 Census, Dalits numbered 3,499,497, which is 13.12 percent of the country’s total population.
In June, Rupa Sunar, a resident of Tanahun district currently working in the media sector in Kathmandu, had accused a woman of Babarmahal, Kathmandu of caste-based discrimination by refusing to rent out her house.
The issue made national headlines after the landlord was taken into police custody after Sunar filed a case on June 17.
The police released the house owner from custody on June 23 after the Kathmandu District Attorney’s Office said that investigation into the case was incomplete.
Rupa’s case highlighted the caste-based discrimination prevailing in the country, including in Kathmandu, the Capital.
Enumerators say the population of the Dalits on paper may go down if many families hide their real castes for fear of being discriminated against.
Sundar Purkuti, a member of the National Dalit Commission, said although there was no such problem in villages, the number of Dalits in the city could be reduced.
“We may not have the exact details because of the compulsion the Dalits in the urban areas face when it comes to revealing their true identity,” said Purkuti. “We had requested the Central Bureau of Statistics to ask the enumerators to collect details in confidentiality but it does not look like efforts were made.”
Bhakta Bishwakarma, acting chair of Dalit NGO Federation, said they had drawn the Central Bureau of Statistics’ attention to some issues ahead of the census.
“We submitted a recommendation that one should be allowed to write their last names. We had said that data should be collected by making a different column for caste where Dalits could be included as Bishwakarma, Mijar and Pariyar and so on. We had also requested the bureau to seek the ward offices’ help to count the number of Dalits in city areas.”
But neither the bureau nor the National Planning Commission paid heed to the suggestions, he said.
Hem Raj Regmi, deputy director general at the Central Bureau of Statistics, said that he does not think there has been any large-scale misrepresentation of Dalits only because they did not reveal their last names for the fear of getting evicted.
“Lately, people from Dalit and marginalised groups do not hesitate to say who they are, unlike in the past,” Regmi told the Post.
But he didn’t rule out the possibility of some Dalit hosueholds not disclosing their surnames.
According to him, the CBS guarantees privacy of respondents and enumerators were told not to seek any information that the responders might find sensitive.
“Certain respondents may have provided wrong information which we call ‘response bias.’ It happens in every study or census. Our job should be to minimise such response bias to the extent possible,” said Regmi.
Source : Kathmandu post
WASHINGTON, DECEMBER 7:
A group of civil rights organisations including International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR) have submitted a policy memorandum to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the US Department of State requesting the Department recognize and elevate the important of fighting case-based discrimination across the world.
The rights organisations calling for the attention of the US Department of State include Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus Sadhana, Boston Study Group and Dalit Solidarity Forum and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) besies the International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR).
“We strongly believe that recognizing and elevating caste based discrimination internationally represents a fundamental human rights issue and aligns with US foreign policy goals, especially as it champions democracy and inclusion in its upcoming Democracy Summit,”states the released issued on Thursday. “We provided multiple recommendations of various complexity to the US Department of State that would help progress the US’s leadership on this issue.”
The civil rights organisations have said they have recommended that the Department include caste-based discrimination within the human rights section of the White House Summit for Democracy on December 9 and 10, as well as within the commitments that relevant national governments are expected to bring to the Summit.
“We further recommended for action the Department take a renewed focus
on caste discrimination by increasing programming and research funding to the issue, reviewing and refining existent policies—including immigration policies—to account for caste discrimination, and engage with interagency partners and non-governmental organization partners to advance the issue,” the release states.
According to recent estimates in South Asia, over 300 million Dalits are impacted every day by caste-based atrocities, lynching, and discriminatory practices that were formally outlawed by national constitutions and international laws.
Congress has already recognized that caste-based discrimination exists and is unacceptable in India and other South Asian countries. In 2007, the 110th Congress (2007-2008) passed the historic House Concurrent Resolution (H.Con.Res.139), “expressing that ‘caste-based discrimination’ is unacceptable and the United States is committed to eliminating it and ensuring the human dignity and rights of Dalits by the U.S. government or U.S. organizations.”
The civil rights organisations also believe that the upcoming Democracy Summit would be a prime opportunity for the US to be a leader on caste-based discrimination issues, and that leadership on that issue now and in the future will be strategically advantageous for US foreign policy interests.