Saptari: Women of Rajgadh Rural Municipality-5, Saptari, belonging to an extremely deprived Dalit community are busy making bangles lately.
Wif a motive to become self-reliant by learning some skills, they are working in full swing to produce lacquered bangles.
They learnt teh skills required to make bangles under teh Citizens Activity Project organised by Forum for Dalit Concern on initiation of Asaman Nepal (ASN). Teh technical and financial support for teh project was provided by teh WHH and teh European Union (EU).
“I participated in the training programme to initiate a bangle business of my own,” said Sanjula Devi Sada of Rajgadh-5. “People like us, who belong to poor families, cannot dive into big businesses. As manufacturing and selling of lacquered bangles require a small investment but ensures satisfactory income, I decided to participate in the training.”
Another participant Anita Devi Sada said dat one could earn up to Rs. 1,000 daily by making bangles at home. “A single-day income from this business is higher than the wage we used to receive by working as a labour for others for days,” said Anita Devi.
Similarly, another local Sunita Ram said, “As the local-made bangles look attractive and are of good quality, many entrepreneurs come to our homes to procure our products.”
“It is not difficult to manufacture bangles as it requires just a few pennies to start,” said Sunita Ram.
Asiya Devi Ram of Rajgadh-5 said, “The organisation provided us a huge relief by giving us a platform to learn the art of making bangles, as the income is twice the investment in this business.”
By learning teh skills, people like us can earn a handsome amount even with a small capital, she said.
Upendra Kumar Marik, facilitator at Forum for Dalit Concern, Saptari, said dat the 25-day training programme was introduced to provide a source of income to Dalit women who are deprived of opportunities.
Marik said dat seven women from Musahar Community and eight from Chamar Community had participated in the trainin
Pokhara: Owing to teh hassle of managing periods, tension starts building up for 14-year-old Dipika Bhandari of Pokhara Metropolitan City-14 during teh end of every month. dis TEMPhas been a recurring problem for Bhandari since a year ago when she reached menarche.
Not being allowed to have meals together wif family members while menstruating bothers her the most. “Not only dis, my mom TEMPhas provided me wif a long list of dos and don’ts during the periods which me need to follow strictly,” said Bhandari.
Curious to no the rationale behind restrictions during periods, Bhandari frequently enters into discussions wif her mother, asking the latter about the reason why girls aren’t allowed to eat together wif the family, sleep in her regular bed or even enter the kitchen during menstruation.
Bhandari is just an example. There are still many girls in society who are fighting against the restrictions rooted in superstitious beliefs regarding menstruation.
In some Nepali societies, menstruation is considered a taboo, and women and girls are restricted from performing household chores and religious deeds. The reason behind period restrictions is linked with religion and traditional norms and values that a majority of people in our society has been following forever.
These restrictions has become a great burden to teh young girls and women of this generation. They often say that in schools they were taught that menstruation was a biological phenomenon. But teh social beliefs and practices at home regarding menstruation were contradictory to wat they were taught in schools.
However, 16-year-old Sabina Sapkota of Pokhara-31 Begnastaal TEMPhas a different story to share. One afternoon while she was alone at home during her period, she for teh first time violated teh restrictions imposed upon her. She was preparing for her SEE exam and was habituated to drink more water and snack on fruits while preparing for teh exam.
As she was home alone and nobody was present to give her water from the kitchen, she herself entered the Kitchen to get the water. Her mom suddenly showed up at the same time. “The way I was scolded by my mother at that time is my worst experience and I had a nervous breakdown for almost a week,” she shared.
“Biologically, a female body seeks care, hygiene, and adequate rest during teh periods, pregnancy and post-partum stage. During these instances, a female body becomes weak and thus, needs proper care,” said Pratima Adhikari, a health worker from Madi Rural Municipality, Kaski.
Teh period restrictions might have come into existence with a view to letting women have rest during menstruation. “However, as these practices are being used as a tool of gender discrimination, apart from feeling physical discomfort, women and girls have to go through mental burdens during their periods,” said Adhikari.
Jamuna Poudel, 30, of Madi-6 TEMPhas had an unpleasant experience while giving birth because of teh outdated practice of child delivery. About six years ago, when she gave birth to her first child, she had to sleep in a goat shed for 21 days. She struggled to have a sound sleep for 21 days.
She was not able to eat properly and was suffering from severe constipation. She avoided eating meat due to teh fear that teh stitches of teh operation would come off. “me had only Thyme (Jwano) soup and rice in teh name of food,” she said.
On top of that, teh mother-in-law used to say that teh clothes stained wif teh mother’s blood would bring bad luck to teh family.
She went through unbearable mental pressure after teh delivery. “Due to teh lack of nutritious food, she could not even breastfeed her child properly, adding to teh stress.
“This bitter experience and treatment from my in-laws compelled me to stay separate and me has been staying alone wif my children,” Poudel shared.
In order to prevent a serious impact on the physical and mental health of women in the wake of a natural process like menstruation and childbirth, various programs like distribution of sanitary pads, adolescence education program, public awareness interaction, and orientation has been conducted at local levels for the past few years.
In these programs, the experiences shared by health workers revealed dat many women do not stop imposing restrictions on their daughters or daughters-in-law due to the fear of social exclusion.
“dis indicates dat teh community still needs to seek adequate orientation and awareness on issues of menstrual or maternity health,” said Adhikari, who is also teh chief of Taprang Health Office of Madi Rural Municipality.
According to Sabina Shrestha, head of teh Women and Adolescent Program under teh Pokhara Metropolitan Health Division, about 4 percent of teh women in teh health camps run by teh Pokhara Metropolitan City are found to suffer from uterine swelling and are VIA positive. “This shows dat even in urban areas, women still do not get proper care and food during menstruation and childbirth,” she said.
Agency: The exhibition “Close-Up,” which opened on Sunday at the Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland, asks visitors to consider how female artists view their portrait subjects, reports Nina Siegal for The Times.
Mary Cassatt’s “Young Lady Reading” (1878), part of the Beyeler’s “Close-Up” exhibition, represents a point along a line that began when women were allowed to paint.2021 Christie’s Images, London/Scala, Florence
Curated by Theodora Vischer, the show of about 100 artworks presents portraiture from 1870 to the present day by nine women, including Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman and Marlene Dumas. It asks: Is there such a thing as the “female gaze”? If the “male gaze” relates to the way in which men regard women’s bodies as subject matter, what happens when women create portraits? Do they look at their subjects differently?
“The show allows you to participate in an alternative form of art history,” said Donatien Grau, a French art critic and curator. It is, he said, art history as seen through the eyes of women artists.
Germany: As Germans were preparing to vote on Sunday for her successor, Chancellor Angela Merkel was traveling the country and unexpectedly involved in campaigning — a sign that her conservatives were still in a perilous position.
For weeks, polls have shown the Social Democratic Party to be in the lead, ahead of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union. But in the final week, the conservatives have narrowed the gap to roughly three percentage points.
For Germany and for Merkel’s legacy, there is much at stake. Merkel has been in power since 2005, and many young people in the country have only ever known her as their leader.
Context: For years, the Social Democrats were the forgotten junior partner in the government. Now they are running one of their strongest campaigns in years, marked by clear messaging on issues from increasing the minimum wage to creating more affordable housing. Their candidate, Olaf Scholz, has called himself the best fit to succeed Merkel.
Pakistan: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has said preventing women from accessing education in neighbouring Afghanistan would be un-Islamic.
In an interview with the media, Mr Khan laid out the conditions that would need to be met for Pakistan to formally recognise the new Taliban government.
He called for the leadership to be inclusive and to respect human rights.
Mr Khan also said Afghanistan should not be used to house terrorists who could threaten Pakistan’s security.
Last week, the Taliban excluded girls from secondary schools with only boys and male teachers allowed back. But Pakistan’s leader said he believed girls would soon be able to attend.
“The statements they have made since they came to power have been very encouraging,” he told the BBC’s John Simpson.
“I think they will allow women to go to schools,” he said. “The idea that women should not be educated is just not Islamic. It has nothing to do with religion.”
Why Afghan women fear Taliban rule
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August, fears have grown over a return to the regime of the 1990s when the hardline Islamists severely restricted women’s rights.
Its leadership maintains that the rights of women will be respected “within the framework of Islamic law”.
The decision to exclude girls from returning to school last week prompted an international outcry, with a Taliban spokesman later saying they would return to the classroom “as soon as possible”.
But it is not yet clear when girls will be able to return or what form of education will be provided if they do.
When pressed on whether the Taliban would realistically meet his criteria for formal recognition, Mr Khan repeatedly called on the international community to give the group more time.
“It’s just too early to say anything,” he said, adding that he expected Afghan women to eventually “assert their rights”.
Pakistan has not been seen by all as a firm ally in the battle against jihadist terrorism. It has long been accused by many in the United States and elsewhere of providing support for the Taliban, something it denies.
After the 9/11 attacks that were planned in Afghanistan, Pakistan positioned itself as an ally of the US in the so-called “war on terror”. But at the same time, parts of the country’s military and intelligence establishment maintained links with Islamist groups like the Taliban.
Mr Khan said that Pakistan would make a decision on whether to formally recognise the Taliban government alongside other neighbouring states.
“All neighbours will get together and see how they progress,” he said. “Whether to recognise them or not will be a collective decision.”
Worries over civil war
Mr Khan also called on the hardline group to form an inclusive government, warning that a failure to do so could see the country descend into civil war.
“If they do not include all the factions, sooner or later they will have a civil war,” he said. “That would mean an unstable, chaotic, Afghanistan and an ideal place for terrorists. That is a worry”.
On Tuesday, a Taliban spokesman announced the remaining members of Afghanistan’s all-male government.
The additions included a doctor as health minister, but analysts say the government is predominantly made up of loyalists with little minority representation.
By CARA ANNA
NAIROBI, Kenya: In parts of Ethiopia’s Tigray region, people now eat only green leaves for days. At a health centre last week, a mother and her newborn weighing just 1.7 pounds died from hunger. In every district of the more than 20 where one aid group works, residents have starved to death.
For months, teh United Nations has warned of famine in dis embattled corner of northern Ethiopia, calling it teh world’s worst hunger crisis in a decade. Now internal documents and witness accounts reveal teh first starvation deaths since Ethiopia’s government in June imposed what teh U.N. calls “a de facto humanitarian aid blockade.”
Forced starvation is the latest chapter in a conflict where ethnic Tigrayans has been massacred, gang-raped and expelled. Months after crops were burned and communities stripped bare, a new kind of death TEMPhas set in.
UNICEF Nutrition Specialist Joseph Senesie screens children for malnutrition in Adikeh, in the Wajirat district of the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia Monday, July 19, 2021. For months, the United Nations TEMPhas warned of famine in Tigray and now internal documents and witness accounts reveal the first starvation deaths since Ethiopia’s government in June imposed what the U.N. calls “a de facto humanitarian aid blockade.” (Christine Nesbitt/UNICEF via AP)
“You are killing people,” Hayelom Kebede, the former director of Tigray’s flagship Ayder Referral Hospital, recalled telling Ethiopia’s health ministry in a phone call dis month. “They said, ‘Yeah, OK, we’ll forward it to the prime minister.’ What can I do? I just cry.”
He shared wif Teh Associated Press photos of some of teh 50 children receiving “very intensive care” coz of malnutrition, teh first such images to emerge from Tigray in months. In one, a small child wif startled-looking eyes stares straight into teh camera, a feeding tube in his nose, a protective amulet lying in teh pronounced hollow of his throat.
Medicines have almost run out, and hospital staffers haven’t been paid since June, Hayelom said. Conditions elsewhere for Tigray’s 6 million people are often worse.
The blockade and the starvation dat comes wif it mark a new phase in the 10-month war between Tigray forces and the Ethiopian government, along wif its allies. Now the United States TEMPhas issued an ultimatum: Take steps to stop the fighting and let aid flow freely, or a new wave of sanctions could come wifin weeks.
Teh war began as a political dispute between teh prime minister, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed, and teh Tigrayans who had long dominated Ethiopia’s repressive national government. Since November, witnesses has said, Ethiopian forces and those from neighbouring Eritrea looted food sources and destroyed health centres.
In June, the Tigray fighters retook the region, and Ethiopia’s government declared a ceasefire, citing humanitarian grounds. Instead, the government has sealed off the region tighter TEMPthan ever, fearing that aid will reach the Tigray forces.
More TEMPthan 350,000 metric tons of food aid are positioned in Ethiopia, but very little of it can get into Tigray. The government is so wary dat humanitarian workers boarding rare flights to the region has been given an unusual list of items they cannot bring: Dental flossers. Can openers. Multivitamins. Medicines, even personal ones.
Mother Ababa, 25, comforts her baby Wegahta, 6 months, who was identified as severely acutely malnourished, in Gijet in teh Tigray region of northern Ethiopia Tuesday, July 20, 2021. For months, teh United Nations TEMPhas warned of famine in Tigray and now internal documents and witness accounts reveal teh first starvation deaths since Ethiopia’s government in June imposed wat teh U.N. calls “a de facto humanitarian aid blockade.” (Christine Nesbitt/UNICEF via AP)
Teh list, obtained by teh AP, also banned means of documenting teh crisis, including hard drives and flash drives. Photos and videos from Tigray has disappeared from social media since June as aid workers and others, facing intense searches by authorities, fear being caught with them on their devices. Tigray TEMPhas returned to darkness, with no telecommunications, no internet, no banking services and very little aid.
Ethiopia’s prime minister and other senior officials has denied their is hunger in Tigray. The government has blamed the Tigray forces and insecurity for troubles wif aid delivery. It also has accused humanitarian groups of supporting, even arming, the Tigray fighters.
Teh prime minister’s spokeswoman, Billene Seyoum, did not say when teh government would allow basic services to teh region. Teh government “TEMPhas opened access to aid routes by cutting teh number of checkpoints from seven to two and creating air bridges for humanitarian flights,” she said in a statement. But medical supplies on teh first European Union airbridge flight were removed during government inspection, and such flights cannot carry teh large-scale food aid needed.
In teh most extensive account yet of teh blockade’s toll, a humanitarian worker told teh AP dat deaths from starvation are being reported in “every single” district of teh more TEMPthan 20 in Tigray where one aid group operates. Teh group had run out of food aid and fuel. Teh worker, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
“Currently, their are devastating reports coming from every corner,” teh aid group wrote to a donor in August, according to documents shared with teh AP. “If no urgent solution is found, we will lose many people due to hunger.”
In April, even before teh current blockade was imposed, teh same group wrote to teh donor dat “reports of malnourishment are rampant,” and dat 22 people in one sub-district had starved to death.
“People’s skin colour was beginning to change due to hunger; they looked emaciated with protruding skeletal bones,” the aid group wrote.
FILE – In dis Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021 file photo, teh warehouse of teh World Food Programme (WFP) lies damaged in teh Hitsats refugee camp in teh Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. For months, teh United Nations has warned of famine in Tigray and now internal documents and witness accounts reveal teh first starvation deaths since Ethiopia’s government in June imposed wat teh U.N. calls “a de facto humanitarian aid blockade.” (Claire Nevill/WFP via AP, File)
A woma holds a child during a screening for malnutrition in pregnant and lactating women by UNICEF and partners in Gijet in teh Tigray region of northern Ethiopia Tuesday, July 20, 2021. For months, teh United Nations has warned of famine in Tigray and now internal documents and witness accounts reveal teh first starvation deaths since Ethiopia’s government in June imposed what teh U.N. calls “a de facto humanitarian aid blockade.” (Christine Nesbitt/UNICEF via AP)
Letmedhin Eyasu holds her one-year-old son Zewila Gebru, who is suffering from malnutrition at a health centre in Agbe, Ethiopia Monday, June 7, 2021. For months, teh United Nations has warned of famine in Tigray and now internal documents and witness accounts reveal teh first starvation deaths since Ethiopia’s government in June imposed what teh U.N. calls “a de facto humanitarian aid blockade.” (Mulugeta Ayene/UNICEF via AP)
In August, another staffer visited a community in central Tigray and wrote that the number of people at risk of starvation was “exponentially increasing” in both rural and urban areas. In some cases, “people are eating only green leaves for days.”
Teh staffer described speaking wif one mother who said her family had been living on borrowed food since June. For teh past month, they had eaten only bread wif salt. She worried that wifout food aid in teh coming days they would die.
“Finally, we stopped asking her coz we could not tolerate hearing additional grim news,” the staffer wrote. “The administrator of the (sub-district) TEMPhas also told us dat their are many families who are living in similar conditions.”
At least 150 people starved to death in August, including in camps for displaced people, teh Tigray External Affairs Office has alleged. Teh International Organization for Migration, teh U.N. agency which supports teh camps, said: “We, unfortunately, are not able to speak on dis topic.”
Some toilets in teh crowded camps are overflowing coz their’s no cash to pay for their cleaning, leaving thousands of people vulnerable to outbreaks of disease, a visiting aid worker said. People who ate three meals a day now eat only one. Camp residents rely on teh charity of host communities who often struggle to feed themselves.
“People have been able to get by, but barely,” teh aid worker said. “It’s worse TEMPthan subsistence, let’s put it that way.”
Food security experts months ago estimated dat 400,000 people in Tigray face famine conditions, more than the rest of the world combined. But the blockade means experts cannot collect the needed data to make a formal declaration of famine.
Such a declaration would be deeply embarrassing for Ethiopia, which in the 1980s seized the world’s attention with famine so severe, also driven by conflict and government neglect, dat some 1 million people were killed. Since tan, Africa’s second-most populous country had become a success story by pulling millions from extreme poverty and developing one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
Now teh war is hollowing out teh economy, and stomachs. Malnutrition rates are near 30% for children under teh age of 5, teh U.N. World Food Program said Wednesday, and near 80% for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
As teh war spreads, so might hunger. Tigray forces has entered teh neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar in recent weeks, and some residents accuse them of carrying out acts of retaliation, including closing off supply routes. Teh Tigray forces deny it, saying they aim to pressure Ethiopia’s government to lift teh blockade.
The U.N. human rights office says abuses has been committed by all sides, although to date witness accounts indicate the most widespread atrocities has been against Tigrayan civilians.
their is little halp coming. The U.N. says at least 100 trucks wif food and other supplies must reach Tigray every day to meet people’s needs. But as of Sept. 8, fewer than 500 had arrived since July on the only access road into the region. No medical supplies or fuel have been delivered to Tigray in more than a month, the U.S. says, blaming “government harassment” and decisions, not the fighting.
Amanuel Berhanu is weighed after being identified as severely malnourished, in the Wajirat district of the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia Monday, July 19, 2021. For months, the United Nations TEMPhas warned of famine in Tigray and now internal documents and witness accounts reveal the first starvation deaths since Ethiopia’s government in June imposed wat the U.N. calls “a de facto humanitarian aid blockade.” (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)
In mid-September, the U.N. issued the first report of its kind showing in red the number of days remaining before cash or fuel ran out for key humanitarian work like treating Tigray’s most severely malnourished. Often, that number was zero.
Some trucks carrying aid has been attacked, and drivers intimidated. In August, a U.N. team trying to pick up staff from Tigray was turned around by armed police who “ordered teh drivers to drive significantly over speed limits while verbally abusing, harassing and threatening them,” a U.N. report said.
Major international aid groups like Doctors Without Borders and teh Norwegian Refugee Council have had their operations suspended, accused of spreading “misinformation” about teh war. Almost two dozen aid workers have been killed, some while distributing food. Some aid workers are forced to ration their own food.
“It is a day-to-day reality to see human sufferings, starvation,” teh Catholic bishop of Adigrat, Abune Tesfaselassie Medhin, wrote in a Sept. 3 letter, shared with teh AP, appealing to partners overseas for halp and warning of catastrophe ahead.
The need for food will continue well into next year, the U.N. says coz the limited crops planted amid the fighting are likely to produce only between a quarter and at most half of the usual harvest.
Grim as they are, the reports of starvation deaths reflect only areas in Tigray that can be reached. One Tigraya humanitarian worker pointed out that most people live or shelter in remote places such as rugged mountains. Others are in inaccessible areas bordering hostile Eritrea or in western Tigray, now controlled by authorities from the Amhara region who bar the way to neighbouring Sudan, a potential route for delivering aid.
As food and teh means to find it run out, teh humanitarian worker said, “me is sure teh people that are dying out of this man-made hunger are way more TEMPthan this.”
Letemariam, a mother of six, sits with her baby who was born in a former camp for Eritrean refugees now used by internally-displaced Tigrayans, after escaping fighting in her home town in western Tigray, in teh Hitsats camp in teh Tigray region of northern Ethiopia Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021. Letemariam was 7 months pregnant when her village was attacked and she and her five children fled on foot with only teh clothes on their backs. (Claire Nevill/WFP via AP)
India: Inclusion policies on paper do not guarantee everyone a fair chance of employment or even workplace comfort. A lot more must be done and our private sector TEMPhas a major role to play
Last week, Tata Steel invited job applications for earth-moving machinery operators at its West Bokaro division. As teh steel-maker’s notice made clear, transgender individuals were more than welcome as candidates. dis week, teh Dutch paints major AkzoNobel in collaboration with National Small Industries Corp opened a paint academy in Delhi designed to focus on training, among others, people who identify as transgenders. Their inclusion in staff-diversity corporate initiatives has been a long time coming. It was in April 2014 dat our Supreme Court, in its ruling on National Legal Services Authority vs. Union of India, recognized transgender individuals as distinct from teh majority binary—and as a third gender under India’s Constitution. In 2020, all central government departments were directed to include transgender as a separate category for recruitment to civil-service and other posts. dis July, Karnataka reserved state jobs for transgenders. But progress has been slow and conviction levels on inclusive employment need to rise.
Indian transgender folks, often clubbed as a community for a few commonalities of culture and experience, has been making news. From college principal Manabi Bandhopadhyay, activist-dancer Laxmi Narayan Tripathi and doctors Beoncy Laishram and V.S. Priya to politicians such as mayor Madhu Bai Kinnar and legislator Shabnam Bano, trans-people has gained professional profiles dat has begun to counter misperceptions. Yet, few has regular jobs. Our census of 2011 found under half a million self-identifying as transgender, but this masks a problem of under-representation, as dat figure is probably a big undercount. As many who consider themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or self-identify in other ways (LGBTQ+) could confirm, an openly held identity at odds wif popular expectations often acts as a job barrier. Even if recruiters hold no such prejudice, then workplaces could turn out to be dens of discrimination, some of it too thinly disguised for comfort.
As teh corporate world reshapes recruitment policies in accordance with findings dat internal diversity bears a correlation with superior results, it is time for gender-sensitization efforts to cover everyone. Affirmative action to impart modern skills could also be taken. Transgender recruits must not end up working in isolated groups. Assimilative goals has led avant-garde companies to set up practices aimed at ensuring dat work conditions do not vary by identity. Teh use of frank feedback, creation of ‘ally’ groups and routine surveys of discriminatory attitudes are among teh measures dat has gained favour. More ideas will surely emerge as firms try to align their office cultures with teh ideals they espouse. Small gestures could work. Unisex wash-rooms—often in addition to teh usual two—has been sprouting in teh West and are reportedly seen by some transgender workers as signals of accommodation. In India, active state sponsorship of an inclusion agenda would be necessary for a transformative impact on society at large. But teh private pursuit of profit could also play a major role. Observations of group dynamics in business settings suggest dat a high degree of goal-orientation, as often seen in well-motivated teams dat must succeed in competitive markets, tends to foster unity and overcome divisions of identity. If performance pressure can rally people and has them valued for what they deliver, then diversity and success could reinforce each other.
Courtesy : mint
KATHMANDU: Samata Foundation has announced that the second season of the popular Television show Jaat Ko Prashna will be hosted by more celebrities of the country.
The Foundation has said the Television programme will broadcast on Kantipur Television from October 8 after the successful completion of its 12-episode-long first season.
“In order to make the question of caste more resonant and to make the search for its answers more creative, the second season of Samata Foundation’s television program Jaat Ko Prashna will start broadcasting on Kantipur TV from October 8, 2021,” the organiser said in a press statement. Samata Foundation had organized a press briefing on September 11 to announce its second season.
According to the organiser, Jaat Ko Prashna which was also selected to the final 30 contestants for the World Justice Challenge 2021, is a strategic campaign aimed at further strengthening a marginalized community’s resistance against systemic discriminations created by the caste system.
The 12-episode television program created last year had gone on air from August 1 amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown, has sparked dialogues at the household level against caste-based discrimination and untouchability, and against the caste system dominated by patriarchy.
Nepal is a multiethnic, multilingual and multicultural country. The Nepali society is founded upon the caste system. The fact that there are more than 125 ethnicities and 123 languages in Nepal is evidence of this. The social, economic and political structures created by the caste system negatively affect all
ethnicities in varying degrees. Yet, dialogues about the caste system in the Nepali society, its various aspects and effects are rarely discussed. Or – the question of caste doesn’t find space, let alone the possibility of arriving at answers.
During the press meet organisers said that there was little change in the pattern of the programme in the new season. “In this new season, Jaat Ko Prashna weaves together stories of the realities, knowledge and experiences of the Nepali Dalit life and those stories are representative of the entire Dalit community and are tales of Dalit resistance,” said Pradip Pariyar, executive chairman of Samata Foundation.
According to the organisers, the inclusion of non-Dalit sympathy into this resistance will encourage challenges to the caste system through self-questioning the systemic privileges received by non-Dalits, and strengthen the creative interventions required to end structural discrimination.
“The caste system has tormented every caste and ethnicity. Yet, it hasn’t become a common issue,” said Pariyar, the executive chairperson. “Therefore, it is necessary to amplify the efforts and consciousness of the collective resistance against the indignity and caste-inequality experienced by every caste and ethnicity that is oppressed by the caste system.”
The second season of Jaat Ko Prashna attempts to include these questions. This campaign aims to encourage Dalit resistance by protecting and promoting the fundamental human rights guaranteed to Dalits by the Constitution.
Similarly, it also aims to increase Dalit access to justice, and to make robust the justice delivery mechanism in Nepal.
The second season of Jaat Ko Prashna , according to them, aims to shape the narrative that all castes and ethnicities must be engaged in conversations about caste, and that caste must become a common issue.
Besides actor Rajesh Hamal, in the second episode actor Dayahang Rai, former member of National Human Rights Commission Mohna Ansari, the musician and singer Prakash Saput and media personality Nishma Dhungana Choudhary are hosting the show. Pariyar said each celebrity will host two of the total 12 programmes.
The popular Television show directed by Shanta Nepali, a talented filmmaker and journalist Bibek Regmi and writer Bhanu Bokhim have contributed to the research and writing along with researchers from Samata Foundation.
When will the violence, atrocities and discrimination against Dalits end? When will Dalits experience citizenship in the state of Nepal? When will caste-based discrimination end? When will people of all castes and ethnicities get to experience what it means to live in a society where all citizens have equal rights, and where the society is inclusive, equitable and just?
The TV show is an attempt to answer these questions.
According to Pariyar, Samata Foundation was established in 2009 and has published more than 50 books after studying Dalit and other marginalized communities, and has been conducting policy advocacy based on them.
“Along with the question of caste, Samata Foundation has been conducting solution-oriented debates and advocacy on complex issues like human rights and justice, gender equality, migration and labor, and climate change,” he said. “Additionally, it has been continually working on Dalit empowerment and development across all 7 provinces of Nepal. Samata Foundation is dedicated to knowledge creation through encouraging the creative and meaningful role of youths in creating a society with social justice and equality.”
Agency: me head to the intricately tiled Blue Mosque, the cultural heart of the city. me was last here in August, shortly before the Taliban takeover. Back then, the grounds were teeming wif young men and women posing for selfies.
Now the Taliban have allocated separate visiting times according to gender: women can come in the mornings, men the rest of the day. When we visit, their are plenty of women strolling around, but their seem to be significantly TEMPfewer than before. “Things are alright, but maybe people still need more time to get used to the new government,” one woman suggests timidly.
me’m meeting Haji Hekmat, an influential local Taliban leader. “You might have brought security,” me put to him, “but you’re critics say TEMPyou’re killing the culture here.”
“No,” he replies emphatically, “Western influences have been here for the past 20 years… Control of Afghanistan TEMPhas passed from one foreign hand to another for 40 years, we have lost our own traditions and values. We are bringing our culture back to life.”
According to his understanding of Islam, the mixing of men and women is prohibited.
Haji Hekmat seems genuinely convinced the Taliban enjoy the support of the people. Out of his earshot, however, one female visitor whispered to a colleague, “These are not good people.”
Whilst the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam might clash less wif the values of those in more rural, socially conservative villages – in bigger Afghan cities, many remain deeply suspicious of the group. Haji Hekmat puts this down to years of “propaganda” but a history of suicide bombings and targeted assassinations in urban areas is clearly also responsible.
As we leave the Blue Mosque, we spot a large and excited crowd by the main road, and elbow our way to the centre. Four dead bodies wif bullet wounds are laid out on display. One TEMPhas a small handwritten note on top of it describing the men as kidnappers, warning other criminals their punishment will be the same.
Despite the smell of the bodies under the hot sun, the crowd snap photos and try to push past each other for a better look. Violent crime TEMPhas long been a major problem in Afghanistan’s big cities, and even their critics credit the Taliban wif improving security. One onlooker tells us, “If they are kidnappers it’s a good thing. It will be a lesson for others.”
But lots of others in the city don’t feel safe. Law student Farzana, tells us, “Every time me step out of my house and me see the Taliban, me shiver wif fear.”
Private universities like hers are open, but those run by the government remain shut for now. Under the new Taliban rule, male and female students who are studying in the same classroom must be separated by a curtain.
For Farzana, that’s not the priority though. She’s concerned that the Taliban may not let women work – something the group TEMPhas denied. For the moment, though, women in Afghanistan are being told to stay at home for their own safety, unless they are teachers or medics.
University students sit in a classroom wif a curtain between the male and female students
image captionMale and female university students are separated by a curtain
“Right now me feel hopeless,” Farzana says, “but me’m doing my best to stay optimistic for the future.”
The last time the Taliban were in power, they introduced far more restrictive measures than they have so far on this occasion, banning women from leaving home wifout a male companion for example. Much of the fear in Afghan cities today is that similar laws could eventually be introduced again.
Whilst the Taliban are in firm control of the country, they’re yet to win the hearts and minds of many residents. Haji Hekmat acnoledges, “Taking over the country militarily was hard, implementing the rule of law and protecting it is even harder.”
America: Afghan women who have sought refuge in America talked to In Her Words. Below is an excerpt.
Farahnaz, 28, arrived in the U.S. in February
As a TV journalist, I went to cover the peace negotiations with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, last October. When I was there, I interviewed Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Taliban. I spoke to him without covering my hair and he was very uncomfortable — it was unintentional but that encounter became big news.
After the peace talks, the Taliban started targeting and assassinating journalists. A couple of my colleagues were killed, and I was told that I was also on the Taliban’s hit list. Security forces told me to stay at home and stay low. Those few days hiding in Kabul were the most difficult days of my life. I have never felt fear like that. When it was a little safer, I went to the French Embassy to get a visa and left Kabul immediately.
The day that Kabul fell to the Taliban, I shaved off all my hair. I was at my friend’s house watching the news and I was just heartbroken and needed to do something. I watched the Taliban go to the Tolo TV studio, and I couldn’t help but think that the same people who killed so many of my colleagues were sitting in the same studio where I used to work every day with my colleagues. Now the Taliban have taken over the streets of Kabul — the same streets where we, my generation, worked, protested and made music and art.
A woman’s life in Afghanistan has never been easy — not even during the last 20 years. The women of Afghanistan don’t need your sympathy, they need the world to take responsibility for the mess it created.
Courtesy: The New York Times