Civil society leaders criticise draft statute

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Sep 7, 2015-

Terming the draft constitution “regressive”, civil society members have urged people to speak out against political parties’ attempts to push through their agendas, disregarding protests from various quarters across the country.

Addressing a gathering at Bijulibazaar in Kathmandu on Sunday, civil society representives CK Lal, Khagendra Sangraula, Pradip Pariyar, Kala Rai and Anubhav Ajeet criticised the Constituent Assembly for blocking progressive issues like rights of women, Dalits, indigenous nationalities, Madhesis, minorities and other underprivileged groups for which it was formed. They also highlighted the importance of raising voices for keeping dishonest intentions of politicians at bay and bringing about positive changes.

Sangraula said the country is currently divided into two poles–one inside the CA and entire country outside it. “They [parties in the CA] are coming up with a constitution which favours those groups which have ruled the country since time immemorial, instead of the marginalised,” he said. “They are breaching all procedures of constitution in the name of fast-track process,” he said, urging people to tear down such a document which perpetuates status quo.

Likewise, Lal accused major political parties of trying to impose authoritarianism into the constitution by misinterpreting concepts of federalism and inclusiveness. “We have to speak against the marginalisation of the already oppressed groups,” he said. “A time comes in the society when it is a crime to remain silent against these injustices.”

Rai said the draft constitution has discriminatory provisions against women. “We are disappointed as the constitution has not guaranteed equal rights for women and treated them as second-class citizens,” she said.

Ajeet said all disgruntled groups should be united to ensure inclusion of the rights for which people have fought for so long. He said leaders in Kathmandu should listen to the dissenting voices in Tarai to avoid any untoward situation in the country.

Published: 07-09-2015 08:01

More on this story

While retaining ‘discriminatory’ provisions on citizenship, a joint amendment proposal of major political parties has further curtailed women’s right by removing a provision to protect single women and the non-discrimination provision, rights activists have said.
In the joint proposal registered at the Constituent Assembly (CA) on Saturday, the three major parties—Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist)—took a step back on the rights of single women and women with disabilities.
“They have taken out a provision that would protect women from being discriminated against on the basis of health, physical state and marital status,” said advocate Sapana Pradhan Malla.
Activists have been demanding equal right for women to pass on citizenship to their children, one-third representation of women at local bodies, Parliament, judiciary and in political parties.  
“Instead of addressing our demands of a gender-friendly constitution, the amendment proposal has curtailed some of the rights that women had been enjoying,” she said.
Terming the parties decision to enforce whip on the rights of CA members to put an amendement bill “undemocratic”, Malla said that it has denied CA members the right to carry the voice of the general people they represent.
Article 51 (J) (1) says that single women will be given employment on the basis of their qualification and skills. Rights activists, however, demand that the state take responsibility of providing employment to single woman by according priority to them during job selection.
Malla also criticised the draft constitution for remainng silent on the role of the state regarding woman with disabilities.
Women rights activists demanding citizenship in the name of mother have been staging a relay hunger strike at Babarmahal since Wednesday. Collective Campaign, a network of organisations working in the field of women rights, announced that they would continue their round the clock relay hunger strike until their demands are met.
“Our fight for equal rights continues,” said Dr Renu Rajbhandari, president of Woman’s Rehabilitation Centre.
Collective Campaign is also organising a discussion with 177 female CA members about finding ways to ensure Nepali women the same right as Nepali males to pass on citizenship to thier children.

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