In a significant step towards fostering equality and social justice, the Bangladesh Dalit Parishad (BDP) and Parittran recently organised a National Consultation Meeting on the Anti-Discrimination Bill-2022. Held in Dhaka, the event served as a platform for diverse stakeholders to provide feedback and recommendations on the proposed legislation. The meeting aimed to address the concerns and aspirations of Dalits in Bangladesh, while paving the way for a more inclusive society.

The Executive Director of Parittran, Milan Das, delivered a warm welcome speech, setting the stage for an insightful dialogue. Mr. Rashed Khan Menon, a Member of Parliament, took part in the consultation and emphasized the importance of a consultative approach before passing the bill into law. Mr. Menon urged Dalit leaders to submit their proposed amendments in writing, underscoring the need for a comprehensive review process to address the community’s long-standing demands.

During the meeting, participants engaged in open and constructive discussions. Notable personalities, such as Manoranjan Ghoshal, the artist of Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, and Sohrab Hasan, Joint Editor of Prothom Alo, shared their perspectives on the bill.

Recommendations for Effective Legislation:

Participants at the consultation provided valuable recommendations to strengthen the Anti-Discrimination Bill-2022. They stressed the need for clear and comprehensive definitions within the law. They suggested refining the definitions of Dalits and marginalised communities to ensure precise identification and targeted redressal of discrimination. By addressing these fundamental issues, the bill would be better equipped to tackle discriminatory practices effectively.

Moreover, participants recommended expanding the list of discriminatory practices to include crucial concerns faced by the Dalit community. These included the use of derogatory terms and discriminatory media representations. By encompassing these important issues, the bill would strive to safeguard the rights and dignity of all individuals, irrespective of their backgrounds.

Institutional Strengthening and Inclusion

To ensure the effective implementation of the legislation, participants emphasized the need for robust monitoring mechanisms. They suggested establishing a Monitoring Committee comprising representatives from the Dalit community, the National Human Rights Commission, and other relevant organisations. This collaborative approach would ensure comprehensive oversight and facilitate regular review and improvement.

The participants also advocated for the inclusion of Dalit representatives in all committees at the national and local levels. By ensuring their meaningful participation, the bill would benefit from a diverse range of perspectives, enhancing its inclusivity and effectiveness.

Additionally, participants recognised the importance of leveraging the expertise and reach of non-governmental organisations working with Dalit communities. By involving these organisations as supporting forces, the bill could generate greater public awareness and foster societal change.

Moving Forward

The National Consultation Meeting on the Anti-Discrimination Bill-2022 provided an invaluable opportunity for stakeholders to voice their concerns, share insights, and offer recommendations. The constructive discussions underscored the significance of unity and evidence-based dialogue in shaping legislation that addresses the specific needs and aspirations of the Dalit community.

While the journey towards inclusive legislation faces challenges, the commitment and determination exhibited by participants throughout the consultation meeting serve as a testament to the importance of this legislation.

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