The law provides that each community shall have the right to preserve and promote its language, script, and culture and to operate schools at the primary level in its native language. In practice the government generally upheld these provisions.
There were more than 75 ethnic groups which spoke 50 different languages. Discrimination against lower castes and some ethnic groups was especially common in the Tarai region and in rural areas in the West, even though the government outlawed the public shunning of Dalits and made an effort to protect the rights of disadvantaged castes. Better education and higher levels of prosperity, especially in the Kathmandu valley, were slowly reducing caste distinctions and increasing opportunities for lower socioeconomic groups. Better educated, urban-oriented castes continued to dominate politics and senior administrative and military positions and control a disproportionate share of natural resources.
Caste-based discrimination is illegal. However, Dalits occasionally were barred from entering temples and sharing water sources. Progress in reducing discrimination was more successful in urban areas.
Resistance to intercaste marriage remained high and in some cases resulted in forced expulsion from the community. While Dalits who participated in wedding activities traditionally reserved for non-Dalits, such as riding a horse, were sometimes assaulted, the courts showed a willingness to prosecute such cases of discrimination.
Race, Racism and the Law
Vernellia R. Randall
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