How you can help dismantle the Caste System from the UK
Imagine this: you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed when you see the word “Nepal” on a post. You click on it out of curiosity, wondering what could have happened to draw attention to your country. A country that is small and essentially shielded from the rest of the world. As you read on, you find out that the post is related to caste-related killings that have occurred recently. Unreasonably taking the lives of multiple innocent people for no other reason than the caste they were born.
Subconsciously, you find yourself growing relieved that the UK is different, that the discrimination between castes isn’t as severe here. But that is undoubtedly a false reality you have created in your mind. To put it simply, the discrimination between castes is just as severe in the UK as it is in Nepal. However, because the intolerance isn’t outwardly shown as frequently, many mistakenly believe that it’s less prejudiced here. It is undeniable that when Nepalis move to the UK, their mindsets don’t suddenly change. The caste system is deeply ingrained within our culture. And it’s a finicky process trying to dismantle it from the roots. When Nepalis immigrate, they carry the deep-rooted discrimination and mindset with them. That’s why it is important to raise awareness of the discrimination that many faces here and start making a change from outside Nepal.
Hami United does exactly that. A non-denominational and voluntary Nepali organisation focused in the UK that formed in June 2020. It aims to promote social solidarity and create a community that nurtures each other by respecting and valuing individuals, regardless of caste, gender, colour, sexual orientation or any trait. As their slogan goes: “Our vision is a world without any forms of discrimination”. It is only recently that the British Nepali Community has begun acknowledging the prejudice against those of a lower-caste in the UK.
Hami United emphasises the cruciality of recognising the necessity to engage with the issue as opposed to merely ignoring it. Caste discrimination in the UK generally tends to come in these forms; your mother asking what “jaat” your new friend is; your father generalising a caste and cursing at them because of his experience with one of them; your parents insulting your friends on their castes behind their backs. But just because the discrimination is typically indirect, unknown to the victim, doesn’t mean that there aren’t people of a “lower” caste who are victims of direct discrimination, having to endure comments and stares daily even in this country.
Hami United believes that to make a change and dismantle the caste system, we have to first admit that the intolerance associated with it does not exist exclusively in Nepal; by pretending it is a problem only in our home country, we are helping the perpetrators and turning a blind eye to those that suffer in the UK silently as they have nobody to support them. Hami United’s main aims are to educate the public by raising awareness about the numerous cases of caste discrimination that occur in the UK and to campaign against it in various forms, such as through online campaigning or holding workshops with focused groups (e.g. Nepali youths) once the COVID-19 situation eases. Other aims include reviewing caste discrimination practices and policies, until their vision of a world without discrimination becomes a reality, and to provide support and other stable services to ensure victims (or potential victims) of caste discrimination can seek justice and protection under the law.
Their Instagram account (@hamiunited) contains posts that are created to educate many, particularly us Nepali youths who are often blind to the existence of ingrained discrimination within our culture, on the history of the caste system, on why it remains despite the suffering of many, on how to approach parents to talk about casteism and many more informative topics. The simple layout of their posts, as well as text in both Nepali and English, means that it’s easily accessible to us, allowing us to educate ourselves on our society and how we, united, can begin to make a change. Step by step, Hami United are working on and aiming to tackle the deeply embedded issue of caste discrimination in the UK despite how often the issue is silenced or ignored; for us to feign ignorance would mean allowing the cycle of intolerance to continue. There comes a time when, as British Nepalis, we have to stand united and break this cycle.
The time is now.
Written by Jesica Gurung.
Read about A Man Ahead of His Time.