Twenty seven year old Prakash Mohara, a member of Nepal’s minority Dalit community, was one of nine participants in the 2011 UN Human Rights office Minorities Fellowship Programme. According to Mohara, there are 4.5 million Dalits in Nepal, about 20% of the total population.
“Dalit means oppressed, downtrodden, and exploited,” Mohara says. “They are among the poorest in the community and score by far the worst in almost every social development indicator including literacy, child mortality, and life expectancy.”
Dalits face discrimination, violence and exclusion, Mohara says. As a group they are regarded as belonging to the lowest category in the Hindu caste hierarchy, a rigid social structure which is descent-based and hereditary in nature. This view of Dalits as “untouchable” is based on perceptions of purity and pollution, deeply embedded in centuries-old beliefs and practices.
Mohara is currently the Programme Manager and Editor of the Jagaran Media Center (JMC). Founded in 2000, the JMC advocates for Dalits on radio, television, in print and online both inside Nepal and internationally. Through JMC’s programmes, Mohara says, they “raise the voice of the voiceless, and assist in achieving justice for Dalit victims.”
“JMC trains Dalit youths, in order to educate them about different aspects of media and human rights, so that they become champions and future leaders and address the inequities rampant in Nepalese society,” he says.
Mohara is also a board member of Protection Desk Nepal, an organization which provides training in security for human rights defenders in Nepal and he volunteers at the Collective Campaign for Peace, a national organization working for peace, human rights and justice.
Mohara, who holds a Master’s degree in Sociology and Anthropology, wants to build on his experience as a human rights advocate through the Fellowship. He believes that as a result of the experience, he will be better equipped as a human rights advocate to facilitate change by applying internationally recognized human rights theory and practices.
The five-week Minorities Fellowship Programme was launched by the UN Human Rights office in 2005 as a way to offer persons belonging to ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities an overview of the United Nations system with minority rights as a key component. It accepts both English and Arabic speaking individuals and in 2011includes participants from Canada, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Iraq, Yemen, Mauritania, Sri Lanka and Serbia.
23 May 2012