Inter-caste couples still facing social stigma

Published On: March 25, 2019 04:30 AM NPT By: Tanka Chhetri

SARLAHI, March 25: Twenty-three years old Sushil Pokharel unwillingly opted for a court marriage at the Sarlahi District Court, after his family's refusal to accept his inter-caste love affair. Pokharel officially tied the knot with 20 year old Sangam Pariyar after a three year long relationship on March 14.

“After my parents refused to accept us as a couple, I had no option to going to the court to convert our love into marriage,” said Pokharel . “The prevalence of the caste system, in today's day and age has caused a plethora of troubles in my life”, he further added.

Sushil and Sangam had eloped about two and a half years ago; however, upon their return, Sushil's entire extended family is said to have left no stones unturned to separate the couple. Sushil eventually was forced to leave for Dubai as a migrant worker. However; “facebook” played a vital role in minimizing the distance between the lovers; hence, reinstating the relationship.

Sushil returned to Kathmandu where he had invited Sangam on February 16 for his vacation. After a few days of holidaying together, the couple returned to Sarlahi. Sushil and Sangam had to spend an entirety of fifteen nights at a local hotel in Harion Municipality, to get through with all the required procedures like forwarding a proposal to the local municipality office. The registration of the marriage finally happened on 12 March at the Sarlahi District court; the marriage was officially recognized by the court, two days later on 14 March.

All of Sushil's attempts to take Sangam home seem to have failed. “The court surely recognizes us as a married couple, but my family doesn't,” Sushil told Republica over the telephone, ”I am willing to welcome any kind of support, from whoever or wherever,” he further added. Sangam is unable to understand the situation and has been blanketed with worries. “His family is unwilling to welcome us under any circumstances. I don't know for how long we will have to live like this,” Sangam said.

Sangam and Sushil's marriage certificate is in accordance with the civil code, according to Mukunda Acharya, registrar of the Sarlahi District Court. “It is sad to see people suffer from various problems after going for inter-caste marriage,” said Registrar Acharya expressing his displeasure.

Sushil and Sangam are an example of what an inter-caste couple has to go through in Nepal. Sitaram Ghale Pariyar, the acting member secretary of National Dalit Commission (NDC) notified us that the number of such couples is growing. “Nepal's constitution strictly prohibits any form of discrimination against one's ethnicity, religion and culture,” said Pariyar, who even traveled to Sarlahi to lend a helping hand to Sushil and Sangam, “It's in the constitution, but it is in desperate need for implementation,” he added. Pariyar also advocated against Sushil's parents, expressing that strict action need to be taken against them.

A few years ago, the government, with the intention of encouraging and supporting inter-caste marriages, introduced a scheme of awarding Rs 10,000 to each such couple who got married. However, it was canceled after several Dalit organizations started opposing the action. The scheme had also encouraged fraudulent marriages, with fake couples trying to get the money.

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