Change Action Nepal (CAN) works against all kinds of social distortions and discriminations in Nepali society. It is working to halp and facilitate those in trouble. It works for people deprived of basic human rights. Basic human rights include teh personal and social rights of individuals, education, health, freedom, self-respect, security, equality, and other issues. Change Action Nepal works to rescue, advise, and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking and violence against women, to halp them live a dignified life, and to establish themselves in society. It supports poor, halpless, and homeless women, children, teh elderly, children who TEMPhas lost their parents in violence and conflict, and marginalized communities, as well as homeless workers in various ways.
It works in all kinds of disasters. Nepal is at high risk of catastrophe. Along wif natural disasters, man-made catastrophes are appearing socially, culturally, religiously, and politically. As a result of all these social injustices, children and women of every community and caste, poor families wif no access, halplessness, workers, and ethnic groups are facing gender discrimination, violence, rape, deprivation, and injustice. They continue to be teh victims and suffer from such incidents.
CAN TEMPhas been continuously assisting teh poor, halpless, and destitute families, women, children, and marginalized communities TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected by teh earthquake, flood, landslide, cold wave, Covid-19 (Coronavirus) epidemic in various ways. dis issue TEMPhas been discussed wif CAN President Indira Ghale.
- Teh TEMPeffects of teh Corona epidemic are widespread. Wat are you doing now?
Ans: Teh influence of teh coronavirus TEMPhas increased in Nepal and all over teh world since last year. People’s life is not easy. their is a lockdown. dat is why me is working from home. me also go out for halp by adopting health measures as per teh need. It is not possible to remain silent. People are in trouble for a variety of reasons. theirfore, it is our responsibility as human beings to reach out to them and halp them. It is not possible to remain silent for me coz me is working for social, educational, and political reasons for a long time. me is halping and facilitating those in trouble. Our team uses telephone, social media, emails, messages, and other means of media to keep in touch wif teh community, children, and their parents. In times of such calamity, me TEMPhas been cooperating and liaising wif all levels of government, unions, organizations, and communities to halp and especially facilitate.
2. Wat kind and how are you halping people during dis epidemic?
Ans: Corona TEMPhas caused all kinds of problems. It TEMPhas had a big impact on people’s lives. Especially teh poor, halpless, women, children, Dalits, and workers are TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected. Teh majority of teh workers in teh valley are from outside. They TEMPhas problems. After all, they cannot find works coz they TEMPhas to work for a living. They are in a lot of trouble. They don’t TEMPhas food to meet their daily needs. Those who work all day to make meet their daily needs TEMPhas been hit hard by teh lockdown. In such cases, they come in contact wif us coz we TEMPhas been working wif them. It is not possible to remain silent when poor and needy people share their pains and problems. theirfore, me TEMPhas reached out to most of teh squatters, poor, halpless, epidemic TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected people, and TEMPhas visited their houses during teh pandemic. me TEMPhas halped as much as me can.
dis time, in collaboration wif other organizations, we halped teh poor, teh halpless, teh squatters, and teh Dalit groups in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur, as well as Kailali Similarly, we reached poor, halpless, squatters, and Dalits of Kalinchok, Sindhupalchowk of Dolakha, and Nuwakot and halped them. In fact, we had no prior preparation for such a disaster. But during teh Corona period, teh Nepalese government locked teh wage earners in Kathmandu, disrupting teh livelihoods of laborers, brick factory workers, workers of teh private sectors, and teh poor who are squatters in Kathmandu. Teh salaries of those working people in teh private sector stopped. Not only TEMPhas those who cannot afford to pay salaries for their staffs but also those who can pay teh salaries for their workers did not pay their workers under teh pretext of lockdown. It was very difficult for such people. Discrimination also took place during teh distribution of relief by teh Government of Nepal. Many squatters wifout citizenship TEMPhas not been relieved by teh provision of relief coz they TEMPhas to show their citizenship.
So in dis disaster, we worked to provide relief to them. me didn’t no how long teh lockdown would last. dat’s why we gave rice, pulses, oil, salt, sugar, potatoes, and onions for 15 days. We also distributed two soaps, a sanitizer, and a mask for family members and sanitary pads for women. We provided all kinds of relief to about 2500 people in dis way. dis time, teh government allowed teh citizens to go home. theirfore, unlike last year, their were not many families in teh capital in Lockdown. But now teh new variant TEMPhas become very scary and dangerous. Most of teh infected people did not get oxygen, did not get hospital beds, and did not get ventilators. Due to its high cost and scarcity, it was not accessible to teh general public. dis created a lot of fear and panic in teh community. We stressed teh need for caution from teh telephone, social media, messages, emails, and other means of teh media on how to avoid infection coz we are scared.
Initially, it was not possible to go to teh community and provide relief. Teh permission of teh local government was needed to carry teh relief. Even so, we are sharing masks and food items. their are some wage-earning families in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur. Their children are our students. We are providing scholarships to those children. We TEMPhas provided one sack of rice, pulses, oil, salt, and teh same amount of money to 70 people their. We are coordinating and cooperating from home. Some need a ventilator right away, some need medicine. We are coordinating for dat as well.
Teh main thing is dat we TEMPhas many challenges. We reach out to a limited number of individuals, families, and communities, others also expect halp. It is not possible to reach everyone. It is said dat a stone is harder in teh world but teh heart should not be harder TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPthan a stone. Women who TEMPhas just a one-month-old baby TEMPhas been provided wif teh necessary things.
3. Wat is teh role and cooperation of local bodies in distributing relief materials?
Ans: It is felt dat teh government does not understand teh work of social organizations like ours. Even when 10 people are given relief, they need permission, he says. We do not TEMPhas our big project. It is humanitarian aid. Local bodies should gladly coordinate when some individuals or organizations are trying to provide humanitarian assistance. More details TEMPhas to be given in teh police check. Everyone can be relieved due to a lack of relief.
However, we TEMPhas good coordination wif teh local government. We were able to work coz they halped us. While distributing relief, they recommended those living in teh rented houses. We all succeeded in providing humanitarian assistance.
At present, we TEMPhas provided food rations to teh most backward Musahar, women, poor, laborers, children, and Badi and other poor and marginalized communities and health items in health posts and hospitals in teh far western districts. Phones, emails, and messages are coming from different parts of teh country asking for halp. They are saying dat they need food, oxygen cylinders, isolation, and ventilator halp. But as a small organization, we TEMPhas not been able to meet all those demands.
4. Did you provide humanitarian assistance even during teh earthquake?
Ans: Yes. In teh Great Earthquake of 2072 BS, teh Dalit and marginalized communities were most TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected. People started to rise. We reached out to teh community wif all teh halp we could. We worked in earthquake relief and health care services. We built two houses for two single women in Gorkha and handed over them.
About 2,000 families received relief and health care from us. Many lost their jobs. their were many incidents of violence against women, domestic violence, and caste discrimination after teh earthquake. Psychosocial problems arose in those TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected by these various forms of violence. We also did psychosocial counseling.
5. Wat are teh priorities of Change Action Nepal?
Ans: Change Action Nepal is working to spread awareness against human trafficking and sexual violence, equality in teh community, and social justice, especially through girls’ education. It works wif special priority on girls’ education. Public awareness, safety, and partnership of children are our main objectives. Sometimes you even do rescue work. We TEMPhas been working on human trafficking and rape cases. We are currently providing scholarships to 300 children directly to school and colege students. Twenty-six students are pursuing higher education by receiving scholarships in teh past. Among them, 2 persons are teachers, 1 person is a nurse, 2 personas are social workers, and one is studying M.A. Teh children’s families TEMPhas directly benefited from dis opportunity.
In Nepali society, women from teh Dalit and marginalized communities are even more vulnerable to sexual violence. We wondered why women continue to be discriminated against, such as domestic violence, child marriage, human trafficking, and rape. Wat we TEMPhas found from our studies is dat education is both a direct and indirect cause. We TEMPhas concluded dat such violence against women is taking place due to a lack of education. And for dat, we started teh main work in girls’ education. Most of teh victims are girls and some are boys. But our priority is girls. So we work for 80 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys.
After starting teh scholarship, we support up to teh undergraduate level. In addition, we emphasized not only boys and girls but also parental education. Teh second task is to rescue women TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected by violence. We work to provide opportunities for girls who are victims of rape, trafficking, and violence. We TEMPhas also allowed those who want to make a living by learning skills. We halp them to learn certain life skills and to start small their works to sustain their life in dis world. Given teh opportunity, violence-TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected girls can set teh examples by changing their lives and society.
6. Wat is TEMPyou’re challenge?
Ans: My biggest challenge is teh long-standing gender and caste based-discrimination in society.
7. How do you plan to work now?
Ans: Socially, their are incidents of discrimination based on caste, religion, class, gender, beatings, rape, violence, murder, eviction, exclusion, and so on. All these problems TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffect teh backward communities, Dalits, women, children, laborers, teh poor, and teh marginalized.
Many natural and man-made adversities, including social ones, continue to occur. Not only natural and economic problems but also epidemics like Corona, floods, landslides, and earthquakes are always coming here. Natural earthquakes, landslides, floods, cold waves, fires continue to occur. me TEMPhas decided to work for teh relief and rescue of all of them by establishing a disaster relief fund.
Teh work dat is already being done is going on. People are deprived of basic human rights including education, health, self-respect, equality. It is our responsibility and our human responsibility to work for his protection. Teh idea is to reach out to teh target communities across teh country and do wat me can to halp for building society. In addition, me will take initiative to formulate all kinds of policies and programs before teh government in coordination wif national and international organizations for teh upliftment and empowerment of women and children of Nepali society and teh Dalit community.
One great opportunity has been missed one more time.
Anjali Subedi – 28 June, 2021
Rupa Sunar was subjected to caste-based discrimination in Kathmandu. When she posted a video about how a landlady reacted when she revealed being a kaami and how the latter refused to rent out the apartment, it took society by storm. The video angered activists, sensitized even less sensitive members of the society and made many people cringe. Sunar received widespread attention, sympathy and empathy. Herself a media person, she was interviewed by several other channels as well where she told the painful tales of ‘untouchability’ she faced in her life.
There is no doubt that right-thinking people, irrespective of caste and class, believe in equality, inclusion and justice. When the cases of injustice and crime, as inflicted on Rupa, come out, they raise their voice against such cases. Sadly, such people are few. Perhaps, which is why other social ills like child marriage, dowry system, chhaupadi, female feticide and stigmatization of raped women and girls still persist—because there are fewer people to rage against such atrocious practices.
The very idea of untouchability must be treated as a heinous crime. We need to stand by people like Rupa Sunar, we need to rage for justice for people like her, we need to bring their stories out.
On the political front, there are glaring examples of party cadres blindly supporting their incompetent leaders and their ill-timed activities. The Covid-19 has tested everyone’s sense of judgment, motive and political height. Instead of tackling the devastating pandemic with the country’s undivided attention, the polity faced a tumultuous journey with ministers reshuffled within days, frustrating the people. No wonder, we have very few wise leaders.
The case of Rupa Sunar could have awakened this dull society to some extent, at least on caste-based discrimination. Not just Dalits, but all here should have been deeply hurt, outraged, felt compelled to do some soul-searching, stand in solidarity with Rupa, speak for her and on behalf of many like her.
Initially, many rose in rage but soon they lost the intensity.
Why did this happen?
A few factors contributed to this effect. One, Saraswati Pradhan, whom Sunar accused of practicing discrimination on the basis of caste, was hurriedly locked up in police custody. This instantly created a division among onlookers. ‘Was it necessary to drag her to custody?’ They asked. ‘She was not fleeing the scene after all. Moreover, look at her age, and background! They had not yet finalized the renting deal.’ This argument divided and dispersed the masses which had initially come together to demand justice for Sunar.
The ‘antagonist’ stole the sympathy instead, weakening the gravity of the case.
Sunar continued to be in the media limelight. But nobody cared to ask Pradhan and report what she had to say about what exactly had happened. Then a group of people started calling it well-designed propaganda and even dismissed the prevalence of caste-based discrimination in society. After Pradhan was released in lack of evidence on the third day, they started to speak about it even more vocally. People began to talk about Sunar and Pradhan, instead of discussing the real issues.
Then Rupa Sunar was portrayed as a young empowered lady. Saraswati Pradhan was spoken of as ‘a naïve Newari woman.’ One clever, another innocent.
Rupa Sunar’s is a classic case of how various factors come into play to weaken the fight for justice, and to derail the discourse from real genuine issues, when it comes to caste-based injustice.
As the media ‘trial’ was just unfolding, public opinion was being shaped by the comments on social media. Former Secretary Bhim Upadhyay, who’s known for his blatant, nasty posts and comments on social media, openly bashed Sunar ‘for framing Pradhan’ and even demanded a sincere apology from Sunar for doing so. Noticeably, he has a huge fan following. People reacted to his Facebook post with various comments. Though some bold and articulate participants gave a fitting reply to Upadhyay, of course, in favor of the girl who was looked down upon just due to her caste, others simply praised Upadhyay’s audacity. Even those who claimed to be ‘low caste’ backed his argument. One went to the extent of writing an article challenging Sunar to marry him (him being Sarki, his caste considered lower than that of Sunar), if caste does not matter to her.
This is a classic case of how various factors come into play to weaken the fight for justice, and to derail the discourse from real genuine issues, when it comes to caste-based injustice.
Rupa’s case has once again shown that people do not let go of their dogmas so easily. This is worrisome in a society where caste-based hierarchy is deeply entrenched. Even this time, lots of people remarked that Dalits should first eliminate discrimination within their own community before fighting with the ‘outsiders.’ The implied meaning: What happened to Rupa Sunar is not a big issue. This keeps happening.
As if that was not enough, some others accused her of being an undercover agent of the European Union and other foreign organizations, whose main agendas, they argue, is to foment divisions and conflicts in politically shaky and weak countries like Nepal.
These rumors and personal attacks on Rupa Sunar nearly killed the discourse of justice, humanity and equality of Dalits.
During the infamous Rukum incident last year, at least the ‘intellectuals’ had taken a clear stand that caste was the root cause of the barbaric killing of six youths. Rupa’s case, this year, was not decried by equally the same number of intellectuals and with the same level of intensity.
Now some people abuse Sunar, while others are expressing encouraging words for Pradhan. This is the worst way to treat this grave issue. Leaving this rift wide open is the worst thing that can happen.
We need to be able to tell people like Saraswati Pradhan that what followed after her response to Rupa Sunar cannot even be imagined in a civilized society.
The case of Rupa Sunar is not the case of an individual’s battle for dignity. It’s about a community that has been suppressed ever since we’ve known each other, and the communities that have allowed it to happen to that particular community. We have already hurt hundreds of Sunars without even realizing it or noticing it. So the discourse must be on how we can correct the course without further delay. Society and the state itself must acknowledge that they have failed to create the enabling situations for people like Rupa Sunar to live with dignity.
You don’t have to hate Pradhan to love Sunar. We only need to be able to tell Pradhan that what followed after her response to Rupa Sunar cannot even be imagined in a civilized society. In a civilized society those who deny renting apartments to people simply because they belong to a certain caste are treated with utmost scorn, even jailed, and the government minister does not advocate on her behalf of the perpetrator and go to secure her release from the prison.
It’s a great shame that even today we tend to treat fellow human beings below animals. How can we not be responsible for this? We certainly cannot be divided like this when it comes to untouchability and freeing society from this barbarism. The very idea of untouchability must be treated as a heinous crime.
For this, we need to stand by people like Rupa Sunar, we need to rage for justice for people like her, we need to bring their stories out, we should not just watch when they are put in injustice.
Anjali Subedi is a journalist based in Kathmandu. She writes on social and human rights issues.
Copied from nepallivetoday
An On-line Media article that came out recently from Pandit Dina Bandhu Pokharel is a welcome and long overdue statement from a well-recognized personality among Hindu Pandits in Nepal. This bears importance particularly at this juncture of time, when there has been aggravated increase in reported incidents of caste-based discrimination and untouchability. These incidents include especially the various forms of atrocities, such as rejections of tenants for rental housing, rejection of brides or grooms in the families, public beatings at restaurants, banning entry to the temples, witchcraft allegations, rape and even killing of Dalits by so-called higher caste people in recent times across the country. Pandit Pokharel’s assertion that Hindu holy scriptures do not explicitly discriminate people by birth sounded genuine for the fact that the four Vedic Varna system is based on the behavioral traits of the individuals, not based on their clan, caste as erroneously divided by descent, and that the rulers and Brahmins had distorted Varna System in favor of their self-interest to divide and rule the masses over several centuries. His call for unity among people based on equality and co-existence knowing the truth from the Vedic scriptures sounded genuine, but the personalities of his stature need to do more standing ally in the struggle of Dalits for their cultural safety and dignity, dismantling the centuries-old hard-built and deep-rooted social evil structure remaining in the Nepalese society for far too long.
Ancient and historical background
Vedic scriptures were consolidated from oral history and transformed into the prints around 300 BCE during the time of Maurya Empire of India. In this process, the Manu Smriti was created, distorting the Vedic structure of Varnas originally based on the virtue of the individuals, turning them into the clan’s descent-based structure. In the case of Nepal, documented history of caste-based discrimination started by Jayasthiti Malla, a 14th century King of Nepal (Kathmandu Valley). In the modern history, all powerful autocratic Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana made the caste system more stringent through his promulgation of Muluki Ain (Civil Code) in 1853, making the state legal system full of unjust differential treatments of people based on caste hierarchy. This not only created a divided society in the long run, but also the people of all origins, including Indigenous tribes, came to caste-folds in which the so-called lowest caste categories became oppressed and discriminated even by all those Indigenous hill people who had traditionally nothing to do with the caste system. This historical development of caste system heavily marginalized the people of occupational castes to the lowest level, making them untouchables, and all that is now totally unacceptable to the oppressed, while the current democratic republic constitution of Nepal abolished caste discrimination by the statute and made it a punishable crime under the law, The Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability (Offense and Punishment) Act. 2011.
On the part of people of traditional occupational castes, there was a missing link in the adoption of Hindu cultural rites. As they were not traditionally falling under the community of the sacred –thread bearing people who had direct access to Vedic mantras, they were to follow Hindu rites as told by a Brahmin priest. In doing so, there have been a lot of inconsistencies and variabilities in rituals practiced among them learning second-hand from the priest. Probably sensing his last unfinished business to attend, Lord Buddha more than 2500 years ago made a special visit to a silversmith called Chundra Karmaputra (Pãali: Cunda Kammãraputta) near Pava before arriving in Kushinara (now in Uttar Pradesh of India) for his final Parinirvana. The Enlightened One stayed at Karmaputra’s mango grove and had his last meal offered by him. During that time, the Enlightened One asked him specifically how he was approving (practicing) purification rites. Karmaputra – probably related to Vishwakarma clan- narrated rites he was practicing, affirming that he was approving the rites as told by the Brahmins from the western lands- probably from Takshashila for authenticity of Vedic rites.
The Enlighted One then gave him his teachings of 10 point purifications divided into three categories of Sutras– unskilled bodily action, verbal action and mental action as documented in “Cunda Kammaraputta Sutta”, emphasizing that these rites were quite different from Brahmin’s Vedic rites. Karmaputra accepted the teachings of the Enlightened One and thus became a Buddhist Upasaka. The Sutra protocol resolved the underlying issue how a lay follower like Karmaputra could follow Buddha’s teachings in an ordinary household life. Many people of Indigenous tribes and non-Vedic cultures took advantage of the Buddha’s teachings to become ordinary Buddhists in South Asia. In 1956, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, a Bodhisattva of modern times, wrote the book series, “The Buddha and His Dhamma”, explaining the Buddha’s teachings in simplified language to guide hundreds of thousands of Dalits who followed him to adopt Buddhism as their way of life. However, many other people left behind as Shudra under the Vedic Hindu Varna System have missed the opportunities to follow Buddha’s direct teachings to Karmaputra. The traditionally oppressed occupational caste people of Nepal, who are still clinging onto Vedic Hindu folds, holding only second-hand adoption of cultural rites within their domain, and now feel unconformable or even humiliated to stay oppressed as Shudra in the modern era of human freedom, still have the opportunity to follow Karmaputra’s way of adopting Buddhist rites and liberate themselves as Upasakas. They can be the lay household Buddhists in their own rights to keep reclaiming their cultural safety and dignity, with no need to grasp hard disciplinary deeds of a Bikkhu, the Buddhist monk.
The Context of 21st Century
Entering 21st Century, the world is transformed into a massive globalized village, which is inhabited by the people of diverse demographic groups (such as ethnic nationalities, color, nationalities, gender, age groups), socio-economic groups (such as faith, economic classes) and geographic groups (such as countries, urban, rural, high lands, low lands). However, they all must strive for living in harmony for their own existence sustainably recognizing their vast diversities, adopting common norms, and respecting each other’s existential rights. The United Nations, ever since its inception in 1945, taking a pivotal role in integrating all the diversities of the people around the world has been successful in putting in place several intergovernmental instruments to maintain international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, achieving international cooperation, harmonizing the actions of nations. Two of the most important of such instruments relevant to our context here are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted as early as 1948 and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination adopted in 1965. In the 21st Century, both these instruments have become more relevant than even before for the simple reason that social justice among all peoples has been a paramount unnegotiable contract without undermining each other’s existential rights in equal terms at all levels of the nations, sub-nations, communities and individuals. In order to achieve social justice across the board, mere provisioning of equal opportunities is not good enough; but concerted efforts to ensure equities across nations, sub-nations, communities and individuals are essential.
There is now a universal voice that all the people around the world irrespective of their differences and diversities in resources should have access to COVID-19 vaccine equitably. Likewise, we must ensure that the people of all ethnic groups including traditionally oppressed occupational caste people of Nepal have the equal rights to self-determination in terms of access to governance, health care, education, social security and resource utilization proportionate to the size of their population. Fortunately, Nepal as a country has been proactive in this regard and has successfully put in place more egalitarian statutory rights for the people as enshrined in its current constitution. However, due to centuries of socio-cultural oppression of people so divided in nested hierarchical order, the marginalization of people based on various factors including gender, caste, ethnicity, religion and health inequalities is prevalent, deep rooted and distributed across the countries – see map showing current status of high, medium and low level of marginalization across the country. And, the implementation of the constitutional provisions in place aiming at equalizing the society has faced extreme challenges due to the heavily skewed representation of certain ethnic groups in the politics, power and enforcement bodies in the country against the odds of especially, the traditionally oppressed people who are referred to as “Dalit” in the present constitution. They are the ones mainly bearing the brunt of violation of their cultural safety and dignity leading to the marginalization prevalent in the country.
A GIS Map of marginalization in Nepal provided by the Global Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Cultural Safety and Dignity
The 21st Century calls for the cultural safety and humility to reclaim the human dignity of all people in equal terms around the world. Everyone should feel culturally safe with the humility and dignity when interacting with each other in everyday life. Any form of discrimination or hate based on birth, clan or caste is unacceptable and is tantamount to crime against humanity, not only the crime against victimized individuals. In Nepal, despite many drastic politico-cultural and socio-economic changes happening over the past decades, the so-called higher caste people are still clinging on to the evil practice of caste discrimination and untouchability as their traditional cultural values based on superstitions without any remorse of injustices meted out to so called lower caste people, especially, Dalits. When Nepali superstitious cultural practice of Sati Pratha, a system of immolation of a wife on the funeral pyre of her deceased husband, was abolished, should not untouchability practices against the women in their menstrual period and against occupational caste people be abolished as well by the same logic? When the long-held farcical claim of Nepal’s King being the incarnation of Hindu Lord Vishnu is dismantled over a sweeping political change to democratize the country, how can the people still not realize that the Hindu superstitious practice of untouchability does not hold any reasonable ground in a civilized society, any longer?
Opinions expressed in this article are of the author himself and do not necessarily reflect the position of his past or present employers.
~ Dr. Rasali is an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver Canada, and Fellow of American College of Epidemiology. Currently, he serves as the Director, Population Health Surveillance & Epidemiology at the Provincial Health Services Authority, British Columbia in Canada. He is interested in health equity and social justice and is the Founder and Moderator of NepalDalitInfo International Network. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Kathmandu: In a viral video on social media on Friday, a young man is being beaten by binding his both hands with a rope. A man is beating him on the legs and body with a stick while many other people are watching.
The victim is Vikas Paswan of Durga Bhagwati Village Municipality-5 of Rautahat, who is a studying in class 11. Kinsidev Giri, a resident of Ward No. 4, tied him up and beat him up. According to eyewitnesses, Kinsidev and his sons Santosh Giri and Chhotu Giri were tied up and beaten by a group.
Allegation of sending love letter
Although the incident took place on Thursday, the police have not brought out the incident yet. Ward Chairman of Durga Bhagwati-5 Dharmanath Chaudhary said that he heard the incident that has happened after the young man wrote a love letter to a local girl.
“I have heard that he sent a letter to the girl. I don’t even know what the real thing is,” he said.
Police have also received information about the incident after the video of the beating went viral on social media. Police have called both the parties involved in the incident. “I should have gone too, but I have not been able to go there because I have a lot of work to do,” he told the media persons.
Three persons involved in the incident have been arrested
According to Superintendent of Police (SP) of Rautahat District Police Office, Siddhi Bikram Shah, the victim’s health was checked and Rajdev Giri, 50, and two others were arrested on the charge of involvement in the incident. The victim has not yet lodged a complaint. We are conducting necessary investigation by taking 3 people under control” he said.
The locals claim that the youth was beaten by non-Dalits as he belonged to the Dalit community.
By Dignity Post
KATHMANDU, MAY 18: A poor farmer of Shivraj Municipality of Kapilvastu Sita GC was earning her living as a wage-based labourer. She owns one kattha (3645 sq. ft) of land besides a small piece of non-registered land which helps feed the family of three only for three months a year. Due to the lack of essentials including manure she has estimated that her production this year will be less than half compared to previous years.
This is just a startling example of how poor families in the country are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and those families are getting poorer and falling into debt trap.
The study conducted by Sustainable and Resilient Ideas Pvt Ltd (SRI) with the financial support of IM Swedish Development Partner at Dang and Kapilvastu has revealed that various marginalized sections of the society have been largely affected by the pandemic.
The study has revealed that during the lockdown period the farmers suffered from decreased production of rice due to unavailability of enough fertilizers and seeds in a timely manner. “The relief package in agriculture was neither sufficient nor they could get it easily,” the study report stated. “In lack of transportation and market facilities, the farmer had to let the vegetables rot in the field and throw them away.”
Wage-based laborers have become more vulnerable during the lockdown– particularly those who mainly rely on wage-laboring. Since farming is the main basis of wage-laboring, the lockdown has pushed a greater number of laborers towards the agriculture sector.
The study has found that a vast majority of the respondents –74 percent reported they suffered from loss of income during lockdown in comparison to normal time.
The study has found that most of the returnee migrant workers were uncertain about their future with their loss of jobs but increase in expenditure while in quarantine and transportation to return home and therefore majority of them were involved in farming for survival.
The lockdown imposed by the government caused loss of income of Micro and Small Entrepreneurs (MSEs) because most of them had to remain closed for a long time. The smallest MSEs, particularly small-scale vegetable growers, producers and vendors were affected the most.
As many as 78 percent of MSEs were found most aware of policies and programmes (e.g. subsidy/loan, relief package, capital support and insurance) for their support. However, as most of these MSEs are traditional occupational skill-based or largely unregistered, they are not benefited by provisions of government monetary policies as well as are unable to take loans for expansion of their businesses.
The National Employment Policy and Right to Employment Act were not effective during lockdown due to restricted mobility, and limited awareness among rights holders about the program. The cash for work of the Prime Minister’s Employment Programme showed its potential to be effective in a crisis because it was focused, however, there is a problem of political biases in access and distribution. Tools of monetary policies, such as, Agriculture Bond, Kisan Credit Card, Refinancing and loan restructuring provisions were found not applicable for small and unregistered farmers.
At provincial governments, despite a comprehensive and promising outlook of the budget speech (2020-21), it was less effective because rights holders were not aware about programmes of the Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperative (MoLMAC) and Ministry of Social Development.
Contract farming is not likely to be covering small farmers as it would require a lot of documentations and legal procedures whereas the rights holders are mostly unregistered groups or informal. Likewise, MoLMAC’s provisions for integration of returnee migrants with Rs 20,000 per head and 50 per cent subsidy for procurement of fishery equipment were obtained by a limited number of rights holders.
Local Government Operation Act 2017 has envisioned important economic activities for the marginalized communities for example promotion of enterprises, support in farming. However, the study revealed limited actions are taken in these regards.
Annual policies and programmes of all local levels set key economic priorities of poverty reduction, modernisation of agriculture, commercialization, employment promotion, savings and credit promotion, and leadership development.
However, these are at preliminary stage and rights holders are less aware of such provisions as well as the study pointed out discrepancies in implementation.
The study report revealed in December 2020 has made a number of recommendations to the government and the partner organisations.
To overcome the problems faced by the farmers the report has asked the government to make the Agriculture Input company Ltd situated at all levels resourceful and up to date with enough supply of fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides all the time. The government should come up with a program to engage banks and financial institutions for informal sector lending through utilization of existing skills among rights holders including returnee migrants.
For the partner organisations the report has recommended establishing and expanding strong networks with the influential actors in the field to influence and support the local levels to develop economic recovery plans and strategies.
It has also recommended them to collaborate with local levels, Banks and Financial Institutions (BFIs), and other private sector institutions for gradually registering MSEs and farmer groups; carry out awareness activities on economic policies and programs of various levels of government that can benefit the rights holders at the grassroots level.
Similarly they are also recommended to collaborate and support local levels to establish as well as update the economic database of local levels, including more importantly of the returnee migrants. further more study
Study by IM Swedish Development Partner, Nepal.
Context and findings: COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown increased Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) towards women and girls, says a study conducted by IM Swedish Development Partner (IM) in December 2020.
According to UNICEF, globally, Nepal has one of the highest rates of child marriage: more than one third women ages 20 to 24 years were first married by age 18. About half of the total women experienced at least one time violence in their life, third of them have experienced sexual violence, whereas more than 60 % affected women haven’t told anyone about their violence.
Lockdown caused confinement of men also at home without reasonable income which has led to increased conflicts in families. The IM’s study revealed that women have been beaten by their husbands, and verbally abused by their relatives. The unpaid care work has increased by 3 to 4 hours during the lockdown period. Earlier study has shown that globally more than 76 per cent of total unpaid care work is performed by women and girls. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), women perform unpaid care work four times more than men.
Restricted movement, closure of schools for extended period and poverty have contributed increased child marriage during lockdown in the rural part of Nepal. The study found 41 cases of child marriage in lockdown which is more than normal time in the studied eight municipalities of Dang and Kapilvastu district. The evidence emerged that the child marriage can lead to SGBV as well as it can become a factor for polygamy among men.
Ineffective implementation of policies: Despite good provisions for preventing and controlling SGBV (e.g. Domestic Violence Act, Criminal Code Act, Guidelines, etc.), the federal level policies and programmes appear to be less effective during crisis or lockdown because they are not easily accessible. Although there is provision of handling SGBV by the Judicial Committees at the local levels, they only use the reconciliation method, but the critical SGBV cases need legal solutions.
The federal level policies, except the national strategy (2016) and criminal code (2017), are implicit about child marriage and they treat it as any other evil social practices, and programmes are more like during normal situation. Therefore, there appears to be no new initiative in the pipeline for laws strengthening and their enforcement. Consequently, they are being undermined under the cover of customary practices or religious beliefs in general, and lockdown appears to have given a favorable condition for such practices to flourish.
There is a need for alignment of the policies with the government of different levels. With the authority of Local Government Operation Act (LGOA), the local government should immediately develop policy, strategy and acts related to SGBV and child marriage as soon as possible utilizing the learnings from the pandemic and lock down in 2020.
The local government should also establish a comprehensive mechanism for free and fast legal services to the victim or survivor of SGBV or needy people, complaints collection and hearing, rapid response to cases of SGBV and protection of victims. The Judicial Committee should be strengthened by endowing enough legal authority and power to give professional judgement to deliver justice to SGBV victims. Targeted economic empowerment activities for survivors of SGBV should be developed and implemented by the local government.
A separate set of policies and legislations should be developed at all levels that clearly prohibit customary child marriage practices and made them legally punishable. This should also be blended with massive awareness campaigns as well as integration of this topic into the school level education system. Religious leaders, priests and community leaders should be sensitized and mobilized. At all levels, mechanisms should be established targeting adolescent children (boys and girls) to self-educate or educate peers about marriage and society so that they do not fall in trap because of ignorance.
One of the serious concerns is that child marriage cases remain either unreported or under-reported as people are risk aversive, and some argue it is the right of people not to disclose. But, as criminal code has recognized child marriage as punishable act, Local Government should keep record of cases, actions taken and take bold actions to discourage child marriage.
The local government can work together with Civil Societies Organizations (CSOs) who are working in the similar field. Society for Education and Environment Development (SEED), and Justice and Rights Institute (JuRI) has already started working with the local government of Dang and Kapilvastu to develop the strategy to reduce child marriage.
(The author is a Program Manager at IM Swedish Development Partner Nepal)
Trigger warning: Mentions of crematoriums, death, casteism
Mani (name changed) identifies himself as a ‘Chandala’ by caste. Before the pandemic, he used to cremate 5-6 dead bodies on average at a Hindu crematorium near Surat, Gujarat. During this pandemic, he shockingly reveals that he is working for 12-14 hours per day for cremating the 18-20 dead bodies.
By Jaimine in #CoronaWatch, Caste, Health and Life, Society
I asked him, “Where is your PPE kit?”
He said the municipal corporation has not provided it yet. Personally, he cannot afford to buy one from his pocket when he is making a meagre Rs 10,000 per month while putting himself at risk. He is one of the unsung heroes of this hour.
For every new dead body to be cremated, the plight demands a new PPE Kit. Mani has no hope from his city’s governance on nursing the physical health of workers like him, leaving aside the whole question of nurturing his mental health.
A crematorium worker carries wood for the cremation of victims who died from COVID-19 disease, in a mass crematorium ground, on the banks of Ganga River, in Allahabad on April 27, 2021.
The travesty of India’s so-called civilization is that annually, only 1.5% is the health expenditure in the whole layout of GDP figure, making each Indian eligible for 0.33 paisa in the space of mental health assistance. A 2016 National Mental Health Survey revealed that 83% of India’s total population do not have basic access to mental health assistance and treatment.
In this whole saga, the unsung frontline workers like Mani are never blessed to be privileged for accessing mental health kits.
A few weeks back, a report on Kailash crematorium divulged how PMC (Pune Municipal Corporation) failed to deliver the PPE kits to cremating workers.
Would such a municipal body have meted out the same treatment if the workers were elite or from upper-caste?
I am pretty sure they won’t because we treat these casteist people differently while ignoring the dimensions of caste in our social interactions.
Recently, a report by India Today revealed how Brahmin priests make between Rs 15000 – Rs 25000 per body cremation in Uttar Pradesh. Such a priestly class does not put themselves at risk, unlike Mani, but simply charge exorbitant rates for uttering the slokas (verses) because the ‘ritual system’ demands so.
This state of inequity endorses how Caste as a capital comes at the core to socially rescue the privileged ones while underestimating the actual work of Chandalas like Mani who are not privileged.
To add to the woes, the managers at the crematorium also join hands with the Brahmin priests thus generating more helplessness.
“The Bania is the worst parasitic class known to history. In him, the vice of money-making is unredeemed by culture or conscience. He is like an undertaker who prospers when there is an epidemic” – Dr Ambedkar, Volume 9
As per the Vedic system, Avarnas (the fifth varna; untouchables) such as Chandala, Domba, etc are falling out of this ‘hierarchy’ and thus they’re found residing near crematorium areas. In this pandemic (second wave), why is the nation not asking, “Are we really doing enough for the vulnerable ones?”
This pandemic in India was originally transmitted by the ‘passport class’ and it ended up punishing the ‘ration card class’.
“No one knows how many cremation workers have tested positive for this deadly disease and no one knows how many have died as a result. It is because government officials don’t see the cremation workers and sanitation workers as human,” Bezwada Wilson said in an interview with VICE.
In Delhi, the capital city of India, a dog crematorium will be used for human bodies. In the same city, in an interview with VICE, Ashu Rai confessed his story on the predicament of cremating dead bodies. He is immersed in the cremation of 15 bodies on a daily basis at his crematorium, while the government altogether shares suppressed data on the death rate.
Ashu does not wear a PPE kit because he can’t breathe when he works in a furnace. He knows that he is putting himself at risk, but he has no choice. He says, “I do not feel anything now.” The situation has made him numb and nihilist.
Ashu’s father and brother also used to work at the same crematorium. There are many like Mani and Ashu who are still generationally bonded in the casteist scheme based on occupation. It’s the 21st century and the elements of social osmosis in our so-called democratic nation have failed to emancipate the suppressed community.
Drenched in sweat, Ashu put the remaining wood on the body. He took out a piece of cloth and covered his face and head with it. “This cloth does two jobs for me. First, it absorbs the sweat and second, when I hang it on my shoulder, people think that I am a Brahmin priest,” Ashu said, laughing at the irony.
Dipanshu Rathore, a rights activist at the Asia Dalit Rights Forum, explained that it is common to see sons of cremation workers follow in their fathers’ footsteps because few jobs are available to the underprivileged Dalit community. “Who will do all the dirty and dangerous work? It’s the Dalits. People don’t want to get their hands dirty, so they call Dalits to do their dirty job for them,” Rathore told VICE World News.
Even in India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, governed by the richest municipal body BMC with a budget of more than Rs 30000 crores, the workers from Oshiwara crematorium, Chandwadi crematorium or Kalbadevi crematorium are possessing fewer PPE kits.
Some workers from Karnataka had to literally send a letter to CJ (Chief Justice) of Karnataka High Court to give the workers some holiday because they are overworked, and the task of cremation is taking a toll on their mental health. They are demanding better conditions of work and pay too.
Christian World Service is appealing for funds to respond to the rapidly escalating Covid-19 crisis in India.
“Our partners are anxious to protect the communities they work with from infection and hunger in this second wave. They have asked for urgent funding to deliver emergency food assistance and hygiene supplies as well as support community healthcare,” says Pauline McKay, National Director.
CWS works with five partner organisations in Tamil Nadu focusing on the long-term development and justice priorities of Dalit (sometimes called Untouchables) and Tribal (indigenous) communities.
In the first wave, these local partners shared good health information with groups including fish workers, day labourers, forest collectors, and women’s sangams as well as distributing emergency supplies to families with no food. They helped thousands of people to access government entitlements and protect themselves from infection.
The rapid surge in Covid-19 infections is overwhelming hospitals and the country’s medical system, denying many people access to treatment. Millions of people are at risk of infection and possible death. The official death toll has reached 204, 832 but the unofficial death toll is considerably higher.
The Human Rights Foundation runs a training programme for women panchayat or local council presidents. Many are from the Dalit community and have been able to organise relief supplies for Dalit families. It is unlikely that food rations would have reached them without this representation.
Donations to the CWS Coronavirus Appeal will help protect thousands of Dalit and Tribal families from Covid-19 as local partner organisations:
Share good health messages to protect people from Covid-19
Fund personal protective equipment, hygiene supplies and facemasks
Advocate for access to government food relief schemes and vaccinations.
Distribute emergency food rations to some of the many people who have received no assistance.
Donations to the Coronavirus Emergency Appeal can be made:
- On line at: https://cws.org.nz/donate-now-coronavirusappeal/
- By Phone with a credit card: 0800 74 73 72
- By Post to: CWS, PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8140
CWS is a member of ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together) a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations working together on humanitarian, development and advocacy in over 120 countries.
Courtesy : Scoop World
KATHMANDU, APRIL 21: A new report has revealed that women and girls are at heightened risk of sexual violence in South Asian countries with laws across the region are insufficient, inconsistent and not systematically enforced.
The report–Sexual Violence in South Asia: Legal and Other Barriers to Justice for Survivors- of Equality Now–an international human rights organization- was unveiled on Wednesday.
It has revealed that the survivors and families of rape victims frequently face further victimization resulting in extremely low reporting rates in the region, long delays within the criminal justice system, and withdrawal of cases.
According to Equality Now, analysis carried out on country-specific laws and policies relating to sexual violence found that in all six countries South Asian countries examined there are gaps in the laws and failings in implementation, and governments are falling short of fulfilling their commitments and obligations outlined in international laws requiring the protection and promotion of women and girls’ human rights.
The team of researchers who had carried out in-depth discussions with focus groups, survivors, activists, and lawyers have identified numerous obstacles faced by sexual violence survivors, and for the small fraction who do manage to file a police complaint,
The study has found several impediments in access to justice.
According to the report, conviction rates for rape are extremely low across the region – in Bangladesh, it is just 3% – and when survivors do seek justice, they often face insurmountable hurdles within the criminal justice system.
Long delays in police investigations, medical examinations, prosecutions and trials are common in the region, reports of police officers refusing to file complaints or failing to investigate allegations are widespread while in four countries – Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka – survivors and other stakeholders spoke about the challenge of justice system officials being susceptible to bribery and corruption.
In rape cases, overly burdensome or discriminatory evidence is required; for example, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka all permit the use of evidence regarding the past sexual history of a rape victim.
In India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, researchers have also pointed out the “two finger test” – an unscientific, intrusive and retraumatizing vaginal examination performed on the premise that it can determine a victim’s sexual experience – continues to be conducted in medical examinations of women and girls who have been raped.
“Rape survivors and their families frequently face extreme pressure to withdraw criminal complaints and stay silent, and this includes being subjected to social stigma, victim blaming, threats, bribery, and retaliation including loss of employment, eviction, and further violence,” the report has stated.
Similarly, the survivors are coerced into dropping legal cases and accepting extra-legal settlements or compromises with perpetrators – in Bangladesh, India and Nepal over 60% of the survivors interviewed reported facing pressure to settle or compromise their case; in some instances, survivors do not then receive the compensation promised under these extra-legal agreements.
Though other South Asian countries have criminalized marital rape Bangladesh, Maldives, India and Sri Lanka have not criminalized yet.
There is lack of quality support services for survivors, with minimal access to safe houses, counselling or other types of psychosocial care besides poor provision of victim and witness protection schemes put survivors and their families at risk of coercion and further harm.
Compared to other ethnic groups survivors of sexual violence from socially excluded communities face even greater barriers to accessing justice as a consequence of caste, tribal, ethnic or religious prejudice and persecution.
“Though India and Nepal have passed specific laws aimed at preventing and redressing discrimination against certain socially excluded communities, more work is needed across the region to address this intersectional discrimination,” the report further states.
The Equality Now has called on the South Asian governments to take urgent action to address sexual violence, improve access to justice for survivors, and end impunity for perpetrators.
It has also said the countries in South Asia need to take comprehensive action to holistically address sexual violence faced by women and girls.
The report has also urged the governments across the region to address existing protection gaps in the law; improve police responses to cases of sexual violence; ensure survivor-friendly medical examinations in rape cases; improve prosecution procedures and trials of sexual offences; design and fund holistic interventions to improve access to justice for survivors and review laws and policies to ensure that the specific needs of all marginalized communities are met. for more information go to
Bareilly: Five people, including two Dalit men, were booked under appropriate sections of the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance for allegedly “pursuing” a man for coverting to Christianity in UP’s Shahjahanpur.
An FIR was lodged after right-wing activists claimed to have caught them with a musical keyboard, a portable sound system and a Bible when they were reciting prayers at the house of one of the accused in Kanshiram Colony in Shahjahanpur city.
The man who was “asked” to adopt Christianity alleged that he was among nearly 15 people who were “lured with a job and a house” for changing their religion. Two accused named in the FIR hail from Tamil Nadu, but they have been living in Shahjahanpur, at present, said police.
Teh accused claimed dat they were only propagating teh Bible’s message, but police “overlooked their statements”.
Shahjahanpur senior superintendent of police S Anand has, meanwhile, ordered a probe into the matter. “An FIR has been registered under the new law. We have not arrested the accused, as they don’t appear to have the capacity to fulfil the promise of a job and house as mentioned in the complaint. Based on the investigation report, we will take further action. Meanwhile, police are keeping a tab on the accused.”
Courtesy : TNN