Let Us End Caste-Based Discrimination
The perception and structural assumptions have created division although every individual is born free with dignity and rights. Division and discrimination against people based on their caste is a serious violation of individual rights. Every now and then, Nepali society has been witnessing instances of such discrimination which make us think rationally towards treating others. The action of discriminating an individual based on their caste portrays the inherent roots of our perception on certain communities who are victimized for being “lower caste”. There have been a significant number of cases that shows the bigger picture of the prevalence of caste-based discrimination in Nepal.
On March 15, 2022, a 16-year-old Dalit girl was tied and tortured for entering the house of a non-Dalit in Ramechhap. She was beaten and tortured for 21 hours and the society witnessed it. This incident shows that perpetrators are getting stronger day by day. There is inadequacy in proper enforcement of the available legal measures and the society also doesn’t stand for the victims. The girl was rescued after 21 hours by the police. There are numerous cases where the police and the law enforcement agencies hardly reach the victims. Their screams are unheard.
Discrimination between human beings on the basis of caste is legally unforgivable as inhumane treatment, it still exists because of the structural mindset. Although advocacy for equal rights and justice against discrimination is ongoing, the status of violence of the rights of the vulnerable groups has not declined. The role of the authorities is to reach the grass-root level and make everyone understand the importance of a just, equal and dignified society.
According to the Constitution of Nepal, caste-based discrimination and untouchability is a major offence and there are provisions to protect the right of every person to equality, freedom and to live with human dignity, by creating a situation where there exists no untouchability and discrimination, on the ground of origin, caste, race, descent, community, occupation or business or physical condition. Unfortunately, the principle guarantees of the Constitution of Nepal is not properly implemented.
The state is the guardian of the citizens and it is the state’s accountability to ensure proper implementation of the provisions of the Constitution and law. The state has also been found involved in discrimination against those marginalized community from the so-called lower-caste. Bijay Ram Mahara and Sambhu Sada died in detention and it has been alleged that they were tortured by the police in the detention centre. Similarly, the death of Raju Sada at the Provincial Hospital Janakpurdham, and a series of other incidents of killing, violence and caste-based discrimination against the Dalit community shows the direct involvement of the state. These cases have not recieved a fair prosecution yet and the irony is that the citizens depend on the state for the protection and security of their rights.
According to the Nepal Human Rights Year Book 2022, there were 28 victims of caste-based discrimination documented in 2021 among which two were punished for their inter-caste marriages and the remaining 26 were victims of untouchability. Entering the premises of temples, houses of so-called ‘upper-caste’ or choosing to marry person of their choice were noticed as the major causes for such atrocities.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights notes that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Nepal being the party-state to the Human Rights Treaties holds accountability to assure equality, dignity and safety of its citizens.
Therefore, the state should ensure the proper implementation of the laws and policies by updating them to assure the provision of non-discrimination. Civil society organization and responsible authorities should facilitate a social movement to educate the people to eradicate discrimination based on the caste system. It is time to stop the acts of untouchability. Let us collaborate to end caste-based discrimination practiced in Nepal.
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