Dalit women candidates face discrimination

- JANAK NEPAL, TULARAM PANDEY, LP DEVKOTA , TALICHAUR (JUMLA)

May 9, 2017-The Dalit women candidates for the upcoming local elections in Jumla say they are facing discrimination from the so-called upper caste people while conducting door-to-door canvassing for votes.

Campaigning, according to them, has been a humiliating affair because they are being brazenly prohibited from going to the households belonging to Brahmin or Chhetri households in their villages. They feel disadvantaged compared to other candidates who are receiving friendly treatment from the voters.   

Challisara Kulal, a ward member candidate for Chandannath Municipality-1 from the Nepali Congress, said her door-to-door campaign was limited to Dalit households only because she was not allowed to get near the house of a Brahmin or a Chhetri family.

“Even those families who have been the supporters of my party for as long as I remember are not willing to accept me. It is the same for the Dalit candidates from other parties as well,” the 46-year-old said.

The CPN-UML has fielded 45-year-old Nili Kami as its ward member candidate for Chandannath Municipality-7. And she too is facing difficulty reaching out to voters because of her being a Dalit. 

“Untouchability remains a scourge in most parts of the district and if you happen to be a Dalit and a woman, the level of mistreatment is two-fold. We are talking about places where women are still forced to observe Chhaupadi during their periods,” Kami said. 

Menuka Pachhai, a youth politician in the district, said the very idea behind quota allocation for Dalit women in the local elections was being upended by the way the Dalit woman candidates were being treated by voters.  

“The level of awareness is still low in many parts of Jumla. People here still believe that allowing a Dalit or a menstruating women inside a house will bring bad fortune.  There is still a lot to be done at the local level to end the rampant discrimination against Dalit and women. Introducing a policy at the centre and trying to implement it here is not going to change the people’s attitude overnight,” she said.

Published: 09-05-2017 08:31

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