Nepal: The Marginalized Population

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Aug 2 12:42:43 UTC 2006

Editorial  [ 2006-8-1 ]

The Marginalized Population

By Savitree Thapa Gurung

When we talk about population the terms that comes to the mind are
fertility, mortality and migration. However we do not talk about the real
population, which is people and, their problem. Not only in the Nepal but
also in the world, the native part of the population is excluded in the
mainstream society. For example, the Raute, Chepang, Hayu, Kasunda,
Danuwar, Dhanuk, Gangai (to name a few) in Nepal. At the same time, Dalit
and women are also facing extreme exclusion in the state.


Exclusion refers to a process through which individuals or groups wholly
or partially deprived of full participation in the society in which they
live. It is also a serious form of exploitation. Only in the Ninth Plan
(1997-2002), Dalits and Janajatis had for the first time their separate
chapter and the government began to allocate some funds for them. Until
lately, the excluded population could not even discuss freely about their
deprivation/exclusion and their oppression.

It is good now that we can at least talk about exclusion. When we talk
about exclusion we also talk abut inclusion. It means which class of the
people are in the field of policy level decision making. Which class has
got more domination in politics? Which class has the domination in
economic sector of the state? So, talking about exclusion is not an
awkward articulation, it simultaneously brings awareness to the people's
inclusion in every sector.

Talking about the causes of exclusion of large masses such as Dalits,
indigenous people, and the women, there are many reasons behind it. The
history of modern Nepal, which dates back to 237 years, has emphasized on
Hindu religion and tradition, which has excluded most of the
socio-cultural groups. The other group other than main Hindu high caste
elite cannot freely decide their way of life. Another main reason is one
language policy focus in government business, which is the main obstacle
to other socio-cultural groups to be in the high echelon of the
bureaucracy. Second most influencing cause is the constitution of 1990
which has articulated equality between language, sex, ethnicity but many
articles of the constitution have failed guarantee that. The provision of
citizenship is also the cause of discrimination.. This has excluded many
of other group who are not Nepali speaking.

The women have been excluded in a number of ways. Not only the country's
traditional and cultural and patriarchal values but also the laws devised
by the state has discriminated women and other groups. One study has shown
that of the various 54 laws, 118 provisions in them have directly
discriminated against women. Other various laws though not discriminating
women while in practice are found to act against women. Various forms of
violence against women exist in Nepal. They are: traditional violence
(deuki, jhuma, badi, chhoupadi); violence based on mis-belief (torture
given for allegedly practicing witchcraft); sexual violence (women
trafficking, forced intercourse, sexual harassment); family violence
(domestic violence, polygamy, childhood marriage); dowry related violence
(mental and physical torture, driving out of home). However, the violence
and exploitation against women vary with religion, caste, and class and
upon geographical locations. The question here is what happened from all
these exclusionary activities to the society/ what is the outcome.

Moreover, the partially invisibility women in politics in Nepal and more
so in high-level politics are no exception. The absence o women in
decision making bodies, health, and bureaucracy, economic and technical
institutions is reflective to this trend. In an age when equal
participation of women has been universally acknowledged for the overall
human resource development, political equity at par with men becomes

In a traditional society like ours where patriarchy has affected every
aspect of the society, a woman's identity is established through the
prestige of the husband or father and sometimes with brothers in the
society. As she belongs to residual category of the society the frog-leap
to be made from being a second-class citizen to that of attaining equal
status with men poses several constraints like physiology, culture, role
and even male conspiracy. The cultural values and implications emanating
from patriarchy have defined specific norms and behavior for both and
women. Certain expectations of both sexes also influence the socialization
process leading them to exclusion and inclusion. A man is supposed to be
outgoing, aggressive, brave, independent, logical and intelligent while
the woman is expected to be shy delicate, motherly, fragile, emotional and
dependent. Such a programming since birth leads to an endless
discrimination that clearly states that politics is a man's world.

In many parts of the world, women are facing threats to their lives,
health and well-being as a result of being overburdened with work and of
their lack of power and influence. Culturally women are traditionally
expected mostly to work as housewives even if they get access to education
and employment and are viewed as reproductive machines created for the
mere satisfaction of men.

Main Cause
Economically, the lack of provision of credit schemes that operate as
revolving fund in generating income is one of the factors that limit the
involvement of poor women at least in some petty trading or activities
related to self-employment. Gender based exclusions are prevalent in South
Asian community. It should be understood that these kinds of exclusionary
policy and activities are the main hindrances towards women's empowerment
in South Asian community, especially in Nepal. and more so for the cause
of an unjust society.

* The author is Lecturer of Political Science at Tribhuvan University.

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