The Badi women want to be heard!

04 Mar 2010

Parvati, 18, gathering much courage and confidence in her voice, held the microphone in her hand. She was representing the Badi women community to express their frustrations and desire to live a normal and decent life. The plight of Badi women has been ignored by the state till now. These women now know that the Constitution is being drafted; they want to raise their voice and make their presence felt. Parvati, with her determination to speak, found her feeble voice making way through the microphone;

Where is the law? 
What is the Government and administration doing? 
How can Badi women speak of fundamental constitutional rights when they are almost non-existent as human beings with equal rights in the society?
Who is responsible for protecting us? 
How can the new constitution bring a change for Nepal and our lives?

These were Parvati's questions in front of a mass of 200 people, including local intellectuals, BBC reporters and the leaders of political parties in Salyan district. 

Parvati studies in grade 9 and belongs to the Badi community which traditionally has practiced prostitution as a means of livelihood. The society till now has been a silent spectator of Badi women, seeing them being mistreated and living with no other means of income generation, not being granted citizenship and above all being treated as social outcastes. 

Parvati expresses her anger, she abhores the profession and feels hurt at the inhumane way that the Nepali society has exploited and undermined the Badis. She feels that her generation should bring this change to the society and they should have equal right to live like any other normal female members of the society.

Parvati found this golden opportunity to speak when she learnt that the programme 'Loktantrik Sambaad' (Democracy Dialogues), sponsored by the UNDP/Support to Participatory Constitution Building in Nepal (SPCBN) project was taking place in Salyan. She travelled all the way to the spot to express the grievances of the Badi women and their exploitation by the society. 

The UNDP/Support to Participatory Constitution Building in Nepal (SPCBN) project has been active in organising 'Loktantrik Sambaad' (Democracy Dialogues) throughout Nepal. The project has funded 16 NGOs, representing the historically marginalized communities of Nepal, including: Dalits, Indigenous Peoples, Madhesis, Disabled, Remote Areas and Youth, to collect submissions for the Constituent Assembly (CA).

To-date, these 16 NGOs have conducted nearly 2200 'Loktantrik Sambaad' (Democracy Dialogues) and civic education orientations in 68 districts and over 1900 Village Development Committees. These NGOs provide detailed submissions from these 'Loktantrik Sambaad' (Democracy Dialogues) in various public ceremonies or private sessions to each of the Constituent Assembly Committee Chairs for inclusion in their concept papers.