Nepal's new constitution comes into force on Sunday, but minorities say it privileges Hindus

Gyanu Adhikari in
The upper-caste leaders crafting Nepal’s constitution ”“ to come into force 5 pm on Sunday ”“ have included provisions on secularism that leave room for future conflicts over religion, lawyers warn. The new constitution says Nepal will be a secular state, but goes on to define secularism as the “protection of Sanatan religion culture, as well as cultural and religious freedom”.

“Sanatan religion, in Nepal’s context, is interpreted as Hinduism, which has influenced Nepali law and governance,” said Sapana Pradhan Malla, a lawyer who has been active in exposing the constitutional provisions that discriminate against women ”“ including a separate unequal provision for men and women on passing citizenship to their children.

Secularism has long been demanded by Nepal’s religious minorities ”“ including Buddhists, Christian, Muslims, and nature worshippers, as well as indigenous groups some of whose cultural traditions have been criminalised by laws based on Hinduism.

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