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Nepal: activists call for Dalit rights to be enshrined in new constitution
Activists are calling on Nepal’s government to make special provisions for the rights of Dalit in the new constitution. A recent conference organized by the Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO) yielded the “Kathmandu Proclamation”, which will be submitted to authorities in charge of formulating Nepal’s new constitution.
Among other measures, the proclamation suggested that the constitution ensure proportional representation for Dalit women in all government bodies including Parliament.
The proclamation also called for the courts to incorporate separate sittings to hear case involving caste-based discrimination. Activists want such discrimination to be treated as a crime against the state.
The proclamation also suggests that the government enshrine universal access to education as a constitutional right, as well as providing free education and scholarships to young Dalit women and girls.
Subash Chandra Nemwang, Chairperson of Constitutional Assembly, which is tasked with writing the new constitution, gave the inaugural address at the conference.
“The constitution making process is really challenging but we can turn this as an opportunity to favor the marginalized, disadvantaged groups and bring their issues in mainstream,” said Nemwang.
Urmila Aryal, Nepal’s minister for local development, told participants that the recommendations from the conference were very important and that she would do her best to address them.
The May 11-13 conference brought representatives of Dalit women’s groups from around Nepal to Kathmandu. Civil Society members from other countries including Bangladesh, India, Denmark, Sweden and the UK. Participants joined about 800 people marching to City Hall in a rally for Dalit rights.
PHOTO: Activists rally in front of Kathmandu for Dalit rights
PHOTO CREDIT: FEDO
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