A seven year old boy was forced by his school teacher to lick his own feces in front of his peers. A 12 year old Dalit girl was gang raped and then killed in the Siraha district. Scholarship money reserved for Dalit children has repeatedly been embezzeled by upper-caste school administrators.There are so many stories of Dalits – men, women, and children – being attacked for entering places of worship and taking water from “public” taps. These human rights abuses sound like something out of a history book – they couldn’t have possibly happened in this day and age.
But the truth is these incidents all occurred within the past 14 months.
But how many people actually know about these incidents? Have the stories been printed in the in the The Kathmandu Post, The Times of India, the Guardian, or the New York Times? Has Kantipur, CNN, or The BBC, ever reported on these incidents?
Granted, news happens everywhere. People are dying in Iraq and Darfur. Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton are raising more money than I will ever see in 10 lifetimes for their presidential campaigns. Paris Hilton went to jail, was released, went to jail again, and was seen at a night club just a week ago. At the end of the day, the media can only cover so much.
But what happens to the stories of these victims in Nepal? What happens to the few local reporters who risk violent retribution for investigating these incidents and trying to report and publish these stories?
One of the goals that Devin and I have been prioritizing lately is reviving the Jagaran Media Center’s eBulletin. For a year and a half, this monthly newsletter provided a voice to Dalit journalists by publishing their stories and reports. It also served as one of the only consistent, organized news sources of Dalit related issues in Nepal, circulating this information locally, nationally, and internationally and archiving stories for future advocacy campaigns. (In fact, I found the above stories in the eBulletin Archive. I had much more difficulty finding the same types of stories in other electronic news data bases – if I found them at all.) Unfortunately, running this newsletter required money, a resource that has been limited lately, and they shut down its operation in early 2007.
Finding the funding and resources for the JMC eBulletin’s revival has provided its ups and downs. I have to admit, there are times when I get frustrated when it comes to this project. For the past two weeks, Devin and I have been glued to Microsoft Word, spending hours of our day pouring over proposals, letters of inquiry to grantmaking organizations, and gathering and helping translate news stories for a sample newsletter to give potential donors. Some days I wonder if our efforts will amount to anything, or will just be time wasted in front of a computer.
At these times of frustration, I have to let these stories serve as my motivation. People need to know what is happening here in Nepal. There needs to be national and international pressure placed perpetrators of such violent and disgusting acts against humanity. The victims need to be identified and aided in their rehabilitation. The eBulletin, before its production was stopped, was able to accomlish this on many occasions. Hopefully it can be revived and continue to serve as a voice to the Nepali Dalit community.
Posted By Ted Samuel
Posted Jul 19th, 2007