Hundreds of Dalit women from across Nepal gathered in Kathmandu for the “Dalit Women’s National Conference for Democracy, Justice, Sustainable Peace and Inclusive Constitution” from 2-4 December 2014. The conference was organized by the Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO) and international speakers included UN Women and IDSN.
Thirty-one parliamentarians from India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh gathered for a meeting of the Asian Parliamentarians’ Forum on Dalit Concerns in Kathmandu, at the fringes of the 2014 SAARC meeting. The former Prime Minister of Nepal, Baburam Bhatttarai, delivered a remarkable keynote speech, calling for an international framework and a regional thematic approach to eliminate caste discrimination, and cooperation between South Asian parliamentarians for a common agenda.
In an effort to address the persistence of caste discrimination, despite legal measures forbidding it, the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) held a consultation workshop on the implementation status of UN UPR recommendations concerning caste-based discrimination.
In an analysis entitled “Nepal: why child marriage persists”, based on findings by Save the Children, World Vision, and Plan, IRIN news highlight that Dalit girls are at particular risk of child marriage in Nepal, and that concerted efforts to change the social welfare for Dalits in Nepal are needed.
Within the span of a month the urgent issue of caste discrimination has been highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Assembly, The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UNDP. Earlier this year the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women also reported grave concern for Dalit women.
Next month, the European Parliament will express serious concern about caste discrimination and urge the EU to take action on this important human rights issue.
The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery has urged the Government of Madagascar to address the issue of caste discrimination openly. She also notes that victims of caste discrimination are generally vulnerable to slavery and slavery-like practices, such as bonded labour in South Asia.
The violent assault on a Dalit village in Nepal has led to strong protests from Dalit civil society as well as international condemnation.
Nine Dalit women activists from South Asia attended the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week. Members of the group spoke at a side event on Dalit women on 4 June, and they appealed to UN member states to address their situation.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has reiterated her commitment to ending caste discrimination. In a statement to a UN side event on Dalit women, she also called on UN member states to address the issue.