Stacey Spivey (Nepal)

Stacey Spivey (Jagaran Media Center – JMC - Nepal): Stacey graduated summa cum laude from Tulane University in 2000 with a BA in Political Science. She later worked as a Research Assistant at the Health Privacy Project. Stacey served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, where she taught English in a local school for 2 years. In 2005, Stacey joined The Advocacy Project as a Grant Researcher. At the time of her fellowship, she was pursuing a Master’s degree in International Affairs at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, with a concentration in International Development.

Discrimination—the US vs Nepal

28 Jul

Different continents, cultures, time periods, and people–yet these two countries on opposite sides of the globe have experienced remarkably similar patterns of discrimination. Despite the numerous differences I have found between my country and Nepal, one thing that has struck me as surprisingly similar is the common form that discrimination has taken in the US against African Americans (particularly before the Civil Rights movement), and in Nepal against the Dalit.

Exclusion and segregation in public places is one of the most obvious commonalities in how discrimination has manifested itself in both the US and Nepal. In Nepal, higher caste individuals often refuse to eat in the same places as Dalits, to share water fountains with them, to allow them in their places of worship, or to rent them apartments or hotel rooms. Because Dalits are often refused entry or access to public facilities, they are forced to build their own, which are often inferior in quality. This pattern should be hauntingly familiar to any American.

Dalits are also discriminated against in the schools. Even when Dalit children are allowed to attend school, in many parts of the country they are still kept separated in the classroom. In fact, the director of our organization, who is only 25, told me that when he was a student he was forced to sit in the back of the classroom, physically separated from the higher caste students. Other cases have been documented of Dalit children not even being allowed inside the classroom, but instead being forced to sit outside.

This pattern of separation and exclusion is most likely quite familiar to any American, as it closely resembles the discrimination that African Americans were subjected to in the States, particularly before the Civil Rights Movement. It is highly reminiscent to the “separate but equal” system which we had in America for so long, which of course was anything but equal. Whether forced to sit in the back of the bus or to use separate water fountains, restaurants or even schools, the pattern of segregation in these two far flung countries is astonishingly similar.

Even the little details of discrimination and marginalization are surprisingly similar. Like the fact that, traditionally, Dalits were supposed to step aside to make room for someone of a higher caste to pass them on the sidewalk. Or the fact that, in the past, Dalits were told they should not make eye contact with high caste individuals and if they talked to or touched someone from a higher caste, they could be beaten or even killed. While these extreme practices are for the most part no longer upheld, it is clearly reminiscent of how African Americans were supposed to act towards whites in the US, particularly in the South.

Given the fact that the basis for discrimination in each of these cases is so different (race versus caste and religion), one might not think that the exact form of discrimination would be so similar. As such, comparing these two cases only makes me wonder just how many people around the world have been subjected to the exact same pattern of cruelties.

Posted By Stacey Spivey (Nepal)

Posted Jul 28th, 2006

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