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The Dalit community in Nepal still suffer in the name of the caste system

By Wiktoria Walczyk, GHRD

Caste-based discrimination in Nepal is costing the lives of Dalits, even after the enactment of the 2011 Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability (Crime and Punishment) Act of Nepal. The continuous caste-based discrimination in Nepal is a cause for numerous supposed ‘suicides’ of many Dalits.  In June 2020, a 13-year-old Angira Pasi, of Devdaha, Rupandehi, was raped by a 25-year-old Birendra Bhar. As a result, the local ward and community suggested that Angira should be married to her rapist. Birendra’s family did not approve a Dalit daughter-in-law. The next day, Angira was found dead hanging from a tree. Local police initially refused to register the case, but they later detained the rapist and their family in connection with Angira’s death.

There are more of such cases of Dalit deaths involving issues of caste prejudice. In 2018, similar to this one, of 20-year-old Sabita Pariyar, of Baglung, was impregnated by a 30-year-old Rabi Khadka (who belonged to a higher caste). Unwilling to face the society both Rabi and Sabita left the village. News came that the car in which they were driving plunged into the river and both died in the accident. The local police also confirmed the news and told that they could not recover their body. Few weeks later, Khadka appear in the village and told people he miraculously survived the accident. Both the parents of Sabita filed a case against Khadka on murder and abduction. A thorough police investigation concluded that Khadka, an ‘upper caste’ man, has been motivated to commit the crime out of fear of possible ostracization by his community for bringing home a Dalit woman.

However, there are many more such cases where the law enforcement mechanism such as police do not act and consider it as another act of “suicide”. Dr. Mom Bishwakarma, a Dalit scholar and activist from Australia said, the majority of law enforcement mechanism such as police are dominated by higher caste people in Nepal. There is very a low proportion of Dalits in such a mechanism. Higher caste people neglect any case of Dalit human rights violation, because they do not consider Dalits as human beings. Even if they do not investigate, they are neither punished or monitored by other higher rank officer, because they are also higher caste. This sort of negligence is main reason behind police incompetence to properly investigate the supposed suicide. Dalits do not have socio-economic, political power to influence law enforcement mechanism.”

International human rights law strictly prohibits caste-based discrimination. However, Dalits are barred from speaking against any human rights violation and they are not represented in the public meetings politics. If a Dalit raise his/her voice against such violation, they are thrashed, killed, raped or verbally abused. In Nepal, even though the Legal Code 1963, Caste Discrimination and Offence Act-2011 and Constitution of Nepal 2015 have outlawed caste-based discrimination, there are is a clear evidence of such a discrimination in Nepal. Constitution and legal acts have formally outlawed any forms of discrimination, but the Dalit atrocities are continuing. In 2020, more than 85 cases of Dalit human rights violations have been reported during this lockdown period of COVID- 19.

Higher caste people neglect any case of Dalit human rights violation, because they do not consider Dalits as human beings. Even if they do not investigate, they are neither punished or monitored by other higher rank officer, because they are also higher caste. This sort of negligence is main reason behind police incompetence to properly investigate the supposed suicide. Dalits do not have socio-economic, political power to influence law enforcement mechanism”, said Dr. Bishwakarma

GHRD spoke with two Dalit activists from Nepal. To watch the full interview on the issues of Dalit rights in Nepal please follow the link here:

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