domestic violence in nepal
Radha Neupane, who is already married at the age of 12, lives and supports her family on $30 a month. She has no financial backing from her alcoholic husband and she is also a victim of domestic violence. She works  for a cleaning service, cleaning over three houses a day to place food on the table for her young ones.

“I’m used to it now. What choice do I have?” said Neupane to IRIN, a service of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Over the past decades, domestic violence in Nepal still remains an unsolved issue. Gender based violence, particularly toward females, is the main concern. The violence comes in all forms, including verbal abuse, beating and even more common, acid burning.

Saathi is an organization directed at helping victims of domestic violence. Activist and Saathi vice president Bhawana Rana states, “The office has barely changed because we hold the same patriarchal society where women’s equality is not accepted.”

Nepal is known to hold the worst rates of gender based violence in Asia. The current bill to hinder domestic violence from continuing to be a problem is currently on hold in Nepal’s government. As of now, the government is not taking any proactive actions to help relieve any of the domestic violence in Nepal.

In Nepal, domestic violence is considered to be more of a private family issue than a crime, thus resulting in a lack of outside interference. Abused women suffer from mental health problems like depression and physical reproductive health problems.

Violence against women in Nepal continues to grow every day. A total of 86 percent of women are unsafe in the communities they reside in. A disturbing 91 percent of women killed in Nepal have been killed by someone they know. Many of these abused adult females do not seek legal help in fear of more abuse from the government agencies and authorities.

Nepal does not provide secure areas for adult females who are victims of domestic abuse. This leaves women vulnerable and unable to escape the abuse. Over one-fifth of Nepal’s population deems domestic abuse acceptable. For most women the home is the most unsafe place to be. Women in the home are more likely to face marital rape and violence.

Activists are continuing their efforts to put an end to domestic violence and provide a safe environment for women and children to live in. The society is in need of political leadership to speak up for not only the women in Nepal, but all victims of domestic violence in the area. There is much improvement needed within Nepal’s government and legislature. Their view of domestic violence needs to change.  Human rights activists have raised awareness of the social unjust in Nepal and continue to raise the question of providing necessary protocol and policies to end this epidemic.

– Rachel Cannon

Sources: IRIN, WOREC
Photo: World Bank

Gender Based Inequality in Nepal
As more Nepalese men leave their homeland in search of employment, the women—especially in rural areas—have begun to take a larger role in society. Even with these new-found responsibilities, the women of Nepal remain trapped in the cycle of poverty and gender-based inequality that has plagued the country for generations. In Nepal, a woman can run a farm yet have no access to the profits the land yields.

Nepal’s economy relies largely on foreign aid, and despite the tremendous progress since the 1990s, 40 percent of the population continues to live below the poverty line. That number declined by 11 percent overall since the mid-90’s, but this still leaves one third of all Nepalese children living under such conditions.

Unemployment leads thousands of Nepalese to migrate to neighboring India in search of a way to provide for their families. Unfortunately, the open border allowing this migration also renders human trafficking, for both sexual and hard-labor purposes, much easier. The trafficking of an estimated 200,000 Nepalese women has filled brothels across India. Someone known to the family often tricks the victims with the promise of a well-paying job. In other cases, women are simply kidnapped and smuggled across the Nepalese border into India. Low-paid border police are easily bribed—an issue activist groups currently target with practical training for the police regarding how to spot a victim of trafficking.

Abuse also follows women who migrate willingly to countries like Lebanon. Under the Kafala system, one employer receives the work permits, meaning women who dare leave an abusive employer risk deportation. Because legal employment pays little, if any, wages, many Nepalese migrants turn to the illegal informal sector. The Nepalese government has reacted with heavy restrictions on women’s travel and migration to the country.

Evidence suggests that the expansion of women’s rights can relieve a country from poverty sooner. Yet, historically, gender inequality has been ingrained in Nepalese society. Chhaupadi, the practice of forcing a women in menstruation or having recently given birth to live apart from the family until the bleeding ends, is still practiced throughout the western and central regions of Nepal. Within the Nepalese family unit, women cannot live individually, which incapacitates victims of domestic abuse who might otherwise leave. Few women report abuse or trafficking to police.

The future of the Nepalese women requires addressing the two main factors of her suffering: economic and gender-based inequality. Microloans offered to rural women proves to be one method to fight the temptation of falsely-alluring jobs abroad. Survivors of trafficking have also received such loans. In 2007, the Nepalese government enacted the Human Trafficking and Transportation Act, but without proper implementation, the Act fails to serve its purpose. The issue demands further international attention, and increased financial independence for women in Nepal.

– Erica Lignell

Sources: The Economist, Unicef, BBC News, FORBES, The Guardian, AlJazeera, The New York Times, The New York Times(2)
Photo: Google Images