Living in Nepal as an Untouchable

Sometimes I feel like I live so isolated from the world. When you open the news I am always shocked what is happening all around us. Just recently a few days ago a young Nepalese boy was slain in a human sacrifice. Jivan Kohar was 10 years old playing with his friends in the village where he was lured away by a pack of biscuits and a promise of 50 rupees which is about 49 cents. The village where the boy is from is one of the country’s poorest and most uneducated people they are often referred to as the ‘untouchables’ in the traditional caste system. Superstitious sacrifices in common in the slaughter of animals like water buffaloes, goats, and chickens. Every 5 years they have a ritual killing of animals during the Gadhimai festival which is a belief that it will bring prosperity.

Living in a village where the jobless rate is 46 percent and over half of the population does not attend secondary school Nepal is still run by the caste system which are run by four principal castes: the highest is the Brahmin, than Chhetri, the Royal Families caste, than Baise and Sudra the lowest caste which are known as the “untouchables.” There behaviors our run by the caste complex system. For example if you are Brahmin caste you cannot eat food prepared by the lower castes. Endogamy which is the practice of marrying within one’s caste is the norm. If another caste marries from a lower caste they are disowned. If a lower caste works with the Brahmin they have no opinion and usually get taken advantage of because the higher caste will not work and just talk all day. This is a cultural norm that doesn’t work.

Girls and women are made to live out in makeshift huts while they are menstruating because of superstitions. Their blood is considered to be impure. They are banned from socializing and sharing food, forced away to these makeshift huts, and barred from using the main water source when they are on their period. When it is time to eat someone from their family will come throw food from a great distance. In one village a traditional healer was beating a girl in front of a dozen men because she started her period. After the Rishi Panchami festival many ladies will sneak out at night to bathe themselves in animal dung and urine to “wash away” or atone for their sins they committed during menstration out of the fear she will be reborn as a prostitute. The village has been so ingrained in these superstitions it is hard for female hygiene campaigns and government engagement doesn’t end up staying long term. Women need to act on and be the main facilitators of change. They need to feel empowered and feel like they have a right to say this is wrong. By building some awareness and educating people eventually over time things will change. Unfortunately for this village not any time soon.


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