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Programme to Support Dalit Women and Children

Programme to Support Dalit Women and Children

Having recently returned from Nepal, where we further developed a partnership with one of the most respected women and children’s organisation FEDO. We are pleased to announce that we intend to develop, in partnership with Chance For Change and FEDO a programme aimed at supporting Dalit women and their children.

Even today Nepal retains its centuries-old caste system despite it being technically illegal. Dalits, the caste at the bottom of this system, suffer from restriction on the use of public amenities, deprivation of economic opportunities and general neglect by the state and society. More than 20 Dalit caste groups exist in the country at present and all of them can be said to be extremely marginalised and vulnerable to exploitation. At the heart of trafficking and exploitation is poverty. It is poverty that makes people vulnerable to exploitation, and Dalit communities are undoubtedly the poorest and most marginalised in Nepal. To compound these already significant challenges, the national index of empowerment and inclusion reveal Dalit women to be the most marginalised, and in reality, much worse off than Dalit men. As women, they have no control over resources such as land, housing, or money. When given the opportunity, Dalit women overwhelmingly voice their concern over being deprived of access to farming land to provide food, other livelihood opportunities, and lack of access to education for their children. Apart from being forced into the most demeaning jobs, Dalit women are extremely vulnerable to sexual exploitation and are often victims of trafficking and forced sexual labour.

Younger Dalit girls are trafficked to Indian brothels in increasing numbers and forced to work as prostitutes. Many of the girls engage with traffickers believing that they will obtain jobs as domestic help. They willingly follow brokers and agents in the hope of earning money to support their families. In the Pune area there are an estimated 12,000 Nepali prostitutes and in Mumbai the number is estimated at approximately 40,000.

Out of a population of 26 million, civil society organisations, NGOs and Dalit organisations estimate that approximately 4.5 million Nepalis are Dalits, while the national census counts only about 3 million. It is this group of disenfranchised and vulnerable communities that Chance For Change is proposing to work with.

FEDO; the Feminist Women’s Dalit Organisation, was founded as a Nepali NGO in 1994 by a group of Dalit women with a passion for working towards the elimination of caste and gender-based discrimination. As a pioneer organisation it advocates for Dalit’s rights and women’s rights simultaneously. With gender equality and social inclusion at the heart of its vision of a ‘just and equitable society’, FEDO puts Dalit women at the core of all its initiatives.

Working in partnership with the FEDO and Chance For Change the Snowline Foundation is committed to working against trafficking within the Dalit community in Nepal. Together we hope to enable Dalit women who have been, or are at risk of trafficking to build viable, sustainable lifestyles.

Further news to come on this programme soon

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