Ending Violence Against Women in Nepal

Published: 2021-08-15 01:55:06
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Violence against women persists in every country in the world as a pervasive violation of human rights and a major impediment to achieving gender equality. Such violence is unacceptable, whether perpetrated by the nation and its agent or by family members or strangers, in public or private sphere, in peacetime or in times of conflict. The UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon has stated that as long as violence against women continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace.
Worldwide, violence against women, a part of gender based violence is the leading cause of death of women between the ages of 19 and 45—more than cancer, war or accidents. In South Asia, 40 percent to 70 percent of woman and girls report experiencing some forms of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, and half of all woman face violence in the home. Violence against women is a global challenge that violates basic human rights and human security. Apart from the individual suffering, it carries high a cost for society and is a major obstacle to development.
Every year million of women and girls worldwide suffer from violence or other forms of gender based violence. The violence is not confined to a specific culture, region or country, to particular groups of women within a society. Over a century has been passed since the world wide movement for women empowerment, equality and advocacy against violence against women was launched, here in Nepal. However even in the 21st century, a girl is murdered on the mother’s womb, even burnt alive for not bringing dowry and to protect the family honor and this scary scene underscores the existing reality of women in Nepal.
The 2011 Demographic and Health Survey shows that one in three women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and 9 percent of these women have experienced physical violence mostly from their own family members at home. As Nepal is a patriarchal society which constitutes women as a half of the total population women are manifestly subjected to discrimination and exploitation of various forms of the violence.
The violence against women as such as originates at home, and has been institutionalized as a culture. The existing law, here in Nepal does not oblige the parents to provide good care, maintenance and education of the girl child. For instance, Clause 10 of the Chapter on Partition of Poverty in the New Code of the Country obliges that the father to take good care and maintenance of son and wife but not the same obligation to the daughter. Girl children are thus engaged in family labour from early childhood.
A survey study conducted by National Women Commission (NWC) on 2012 at 26 districts of Western Nepal discovered a higher rates of female child labour resulted out of discriminatory treatment within the family and thus are deprived of opportunity to education and development. This tendency has consequently been giving rise to discrimination of many kinds in further stages of life. Domestic violence has been a persistent problem throughout the recorded history and is one of the primary public concerns, here in Nepal.
Nepalese women and girls are vulnerable to both domestic violence and public violence. Forced and early marriage is still a pervasive phenomenon despite the legal age of marriage being 18. Harmful traditional practices such as Deukhi where a girl is being offered to God and not allowed to marry, Chhaupadi where a mensurated girl is kept in a small shed away from the main house are very common in Western Nepal. Girls are one and a half times more likely to die before the age of five than their brothers and are twice as likely to be malnourished.
According to the study of Saathi, 43 percent of the women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Between 5,000 and 12,000 girls and women aged 10 to 20 years of age are trafficked every year, 75 percent of whom are below 18 years of age and the majority of whom are sold into forced prostitution. In December 2012, an incident involving a Sita Rai (name changed), a migrants worker, who arrived homeland Nepal from the Gulf country was robbed and raped by the concerning government officials on the immigration office are
Tribhuvan International Airport, cases of Shiva Hasmey and Bindu Thakur, who were burnt alive by their family members, terrific murder of Saraswoti Subedi at Kathmandu and disappearance of Choori Maiya Maharajan, a resident of Kathmandu marked the starting point of the ‘Occupy Baluwatar’, a protest campaign shouting for the elimination of violence against women infront of the governmental residence of Prime Minister. This homegroom social movement in response to the way authorities handled this cases, in particular and the continuance of violence against women in general.
This movement celebrated its 100 days on April 06, 2013 but the government was mute on their voices shouting against violence against women infront of the residence of Prime Minister too. The incident, one among many that month, occurred during Nepal’s commemoration of the global event ’16 days of activism against violence against women’, at the same time an incident in India involving a violent attack on the two students where one of whom was a young woman who did not survive her injuries become a high profile case internationally and was closely followed in Nepal as well.
Ever since, Nepal’s national media has been drawing increased attention toward incidences of violence against women across the country. On February 14, 2013 coinciding with the fiftieth day of the ‘Occupy Baluwatar’ movement, a large number of Nepalese people joined nearly 200 countries worldwide to rise up and speak against violence against women during the event of ‘One Billion Rising’. Since the end of the conflict the Government of Nepal has made several commitments to address violence against women.
In 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) both parties i. e. then seven alliance party and then rebels Maoist agreed on “the need to specially protect the rights of women and children and the need to stop all forms of sexual exploitation and other forms of misbehavior on women and child labor and other violent acts against women. ” The Interim Constitution 2007 states that “no physical, mental or other form of violence shall be inflicted on any women, and such an act shall be punishable by law. Nonetheless, a recent government study on gender based violence where violence against women is sub categorized revaled that almost two–thirds of women interviewed were unaware of any existing legislation related to violence against women and only a one in four women was aware of any government services as available for survivors of violence or abuse. At the same time, much more remains to be done to create an environment where women can live free from violence against women.
Progress in the development of international legal norms, standards and policies has not been accompanied by comparable progress in their implementation at the national level, which remains insufficient and inconsistent in all parts of the Nepal. Similarly, while data on the nature, prevalence and incidence of all forms of violence against women has increased significantly in recent days, information is not yet comprehensive.
Lack of political will is reflected in inadequate resources devoted to tackling violence against women and a failure to create and maintain a political and social environment where violence against women is not tolerated. There is also a need to engage men more effectively in the work on preventing and eliminating such violence, and to tackle stereotypes and attitudes that perpetuate male violence against women.
Generally, the violence against women is the result of unequal patriarchal power relation deeply rooted with social structure devised, reinforced and perpetuated by sociopolitical institutions dominated by men and which thereby ensure that men, by virtue of their gender, have power and control over women. The violence against women comprises all those acts defined as an assault against women’s personhood, mental or physical integrity or freedom of movement. As women work mostly inside the household sphere, their contributions remain invisible.
Obviously, it shows that women suffer from discrepancies and are facing countless social, economical, religious, cultural, legal and political problems. They are suffering from various social practices like early marriage, polygamy and widow marriage etc. They are even suffering from malnutrition and morbidity and have fewer legal rights than men. They contribute more labour to economy than men do. They perform various household activities. In spite of their hardworking and loyal ness nature to their family, women are facing unsatisfactory socioeconomic conditions.
This wide ranges of factors including traditional system, geographical situation, socioeconomic condition, cultural practices are responsible of the discouraging the situation of women. This seriously delays development efforts. Women’s educational, occupational, social and economical status influence the family size, rearing, bearing and primary education of children and ultimately it may help to improve the overall well being of the family. There is a saying on the Nepalese society, “Let it be late but let it be son. ” Males have given a high rank in society but females are assigned as somebody’s commodity.
Women get less education, health care, nutrition and opportunity to develop their leadership quality. They are overloaded and have less leisure than men. Decline on socioeconomic status of women requires improvements in quality life through increasing level of income and education as well as improvement of working status. Involvement on family decision making process indicates one’s higher or equal status in the family. Status of women is also religiously higher in Nepal, especially in higher caste of Hindu families. But is only in theory or it can be said that it is true to some extent, when they are in the status of mother.
In the cases of daughter in law, they are not accepted as a decision maker. There are minimum participation of women for taking decision in household affairs like buying, selling food, land and cattle, celebrating the festivals, arranging marriage and getting medical treatment. The wide range of socioeconomic problems should be addressed for the overall development of the nation. Nepalese women’s voices aren’t heard, their work isn’t valued and their future is dependent upon decision made by men in the power structure of nation, government communities and families.
Therefore, it is very important to look in the issue with the veiw of gender perspectives in all the families and household activities. Women constitutes more than half of the nations population in Nepal. Most of them are living in rural areas. The status of women is nutritionally, economically, socially, educationally, inferior to man. Maternal mortality rate is very high, early marriage is frequent. It is estimated that 40 percent of women still get marriage before the age of 16, despite the Country Code 1963 outlawing child marriage and polygamy.
Girls are over involved in domestic and farm activities, which preclude them from gaining due education and skills. However educational opportunity and age at the marriage is gradually raising and grater effort is called for the rise so that girls can stay in school longer and seek better employment opportunities. Women are engaged to the burden of child bearing, frequently and closely spaced pregnancies and labor intensive tasks, such as fetching water, cutting and carrying firewood and fodders, cleaning and washing, food processing, tending to household livestock, breast feeding and carrying young children.
Veiws towards women have not been changed effectively. Nepalese women don’t have her own identity as a human being. There are recognized as a mother, sister, daughter or wife of someone else. The mere physical difference doesn’t have to make necessary for one sex to loose complete human identity and live in surrender to the other sex. Harmonious coexistence should be the guiding principle in the relationship between men and women. Any intellectual and dynamic women often impress a man as long as she is not his own life. Section IX Recommendations
Detailed recommendation for action on violence against women have been developed in intergovernmental agreements such as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and in reports, studies, and guidelines by UN bodies,  agencies and mechanisms, academics and NGOs, however, significant gaps remain in their effective implementation. The present recommendations complement existing ones and aims to accelerate implementations if these existing standards, norms and commitments. The following strategic recommendations arising from this study report are key to moving the agenda for the elimination of violence against women forward.
These recommendations are interrelated and all are crucial for an effective, systematic and comprehensive approach to end violence against women. The following recommendations are made with a veiw to combating the problems. Recommendation on implementation of the international treaties and convention Government of Nepal has ratified many international treaties and conventions providing for elimination of gender based discrimination and exploitation and has fully accepted to act in accordance there with.
The Treaty Act of Nepal recognizes the validity of such treaties and conventions in absolute terms. However, Government of Nepal has not sincerely acting as per such international obligations and not behaving like a competent government. For this the following actions must be taken sincerely, honestly and urgently : • The Property Right Bill introduced in the then parliament must be enacted as soon as possible with positive formulations of the contents and must not make any attempt to relate women’s legal position based on their sex and marital status. Law relating to trafficking, rape, sexual harassment etc must be enacted or amended and have special provisions relating to investigation, prosecution and trail system. • The women police must be involved in the investigation of the crimes of rape, trafficking, sexual abuses and so on. For making the women police efficient in processing investigation, the existing women police cells should be equipped with training on law and policy related to violence against women. The scheme of women police must be expanded to all districts with necessary logistic support and infrastructure for medical and forensic investigation. The existing structure of criminal trial system must be changed.
The existing Judicial Administration Act must be replaced by new act having provision for separate criminal court guaranteeing a closed camera to try and adjudicate the cases relating to rape, trafficking and sexual harassment or abuses. • Considering the present state of law relating there to, a separate and integrated law must be enacted as soon as possible. Such law must give a special privilege to women affected by the violence to participate in the investigation process. As Nepal moves for sustainable peace, the nation should commit to support women’s rights made through Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, the Bejing Platform for Action. Recommendation on national policy on violence against women Several issues relating to violence against women have received no policy interventions. Such issues need to be addressed by the government with special attention and consideration. For this, the following recommendations are suggested. • Violence against women must be given high priority in the national agenda and strong political commitment is important for its prevention.
Activities like providing more access to basic education and skills, effective provision of health service, quality education, training and a supportive environment to families and children vulnerable to sexual exploitation should be included in the national planning scheme. • Trafficking is a trans-border issue and, therefore, must be addressed at a global or regional level. Pressure must be accelerated to eliminate the crisis brought about by trafficking through bilateral and multilateral dialogues. Adequate resources must be mobilized to combat trafficking and a regional and bilateral plan of action should be initiated immediately.
Till now, the problem of trafficking is confined to India. However, it has symptoms of crossing the Indian sub-continent. Therefore, a special attention should be given to cope of the problem before it becomes serious. With regard to trafficking of women and girls to India, Government of Nepal must immediately make arrangement for implementing the law on extradition of the criminals involved there in and take initiatives to establish a SAARC police force to combat against the problem. Like regional convention on terrorism, an initiative to have regional convention against trafficking must be made through utilizing the forum of SAARC. The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW) established in September 1995 with the goal of bringing women into the mainstream of national development by encouraging gender equality and their empowerment is committed to formulate a national action plan for women’s development based on national priorities and international declarations and conventions.
The plan of action prepared by the Ministry to eradicate violence against women should be analyzed and a work plan should be developed by involving governmental and non governmental organizations, lawyers, doctors, human rights workers and social activists. Special training package on violence against women must be developed and imparted to the judges, prospectors, district administrators, police, lawyers, doctors and human rights workers. The training package as much include orientation on knowledge and skills both for effectively combat violence against women. Priority must be given to generate a special group of women lawyers to assume role of leadership of gender based legal issues. A team of lawyers should be constituted to support the victims of violence against women all over the country.
This responsibility must be given to the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare as a national agenda. • A policy of special legal and scheme for victims of violence must be adopted nationally and legal aid and monitoring team should be established to oversight responsibility of the investigating and prosecuting agencies, and make timely suggestions. Such team must also be empowered to visit shelters and prisons and to provide necessary suggestions and support. Recommendation on the issue of nationality The forthcoming constitution should provide for citizenship by descent through one parent, mother or father, thus recognizing the equal rights of women to transfer citizenship, also protecting the right of the child to acquire a nationality. • I case of transfer of citizenship to spouses of foreign origin, provisions should include equal prerequisites for both a foreign wife and husband; shorter residency time periods; and the issuance of temporary identification cards which would confer rights—expect the right to vote—until full citizenship has been acquired through naturalization. The government should adopt the legal measures and do away with all the existing procedural and administrative barriers that hinder women to exercise and enjoy their rights independently of their husbands or male relatives. Moreover, the government should circulate clear guidelines to all its officials to ensure uniformity I’m distribution of citizenship certificates. Recommendation on women’s participation in public life • Encourage political parties to make it mandatory to have at least 33 percent women representation in each level and that should be indicated in the manifesto of political parties.
To increase women’s representations within the political parties, ensure special measures for women in the newly drafted political party bill or through constitutional provision. Also, promote political parties support to women candidates in particular financing and campaigning support among others, through relevant special measures for women. • The government should also put in place measures to ensure meaningful and effective participation of women in political and public life as well as at international level. Address socioeconomic challenges and violence against women through wider awareness programs in community also targeting men and through effective enforcement of prevalent laws to protect women from violence. Provide gender sensitive training to men in politics to encourage gender friendly atmosphere within the political parties. Recommendation for access to justice • Reveiw the existing legal framework and enforcement procedures in relation to violence against women that coordinate with existing civil and criminal laws as well streamlining the response mechanism.
In particular increase the restrictive statute of limitations for filling a Charge Sheet for rape beyond the present 35 days, enact law dealing with violence resulting from the allegations of practicing witchcraft,  reveiw the Domestic Violence Act and formulate strategies with rights based approach which are victim centric to address impunity in cases of violence against women. Develop long term support mechanisms for victims and survivors of violence against women including legal aid, shelter, psychological support, emergency funds. Continue to provide mandatory trainings accompanied with refresher training for government officials including law enforcement officials, health workers, community level workers including members to VDC, teachers etc to identify and deal sensitively with survivors of violence against women. • Finalize and adopt the standard operating procedures to address operating procedures for the prevention of and response to gender based violence. The procedures define the roles and responsibilities of actors involved in prevention and response of gender based violence.
Recommendation for donor agencies There is a need for information on interventions that are effective, feasible and sustainable in resource poor settings. Thus donor agencies should support research and data collection on the prevalence of different forms of violence against women and the effectiveness of measure implemented to prevent and redress violence against women. Similarly, donors should fully fund rigorous monitoring and evaluation of programmes implementation. Miscellaneous • Monitoring mechanism should be developed to oversee how victims and accused are dealt with by the police, lawyers and the court.
On the basis of the monitoring, support should be provide if necessary. • Government advocacy offices should be well equipped with a separate section to deal with the cases related to violence against women. • The family court should be established to have a speedy trial on family issues. • Regional networks of women lawyers, activist, media and civil society should be established to lobby on the issue of violence against women. This will also help in reforming the law and policy through the network. A national study on situation on violence against women must be conducted to identify the accurate magnitude and dimension of the problem. • Center for counseling services for victimized women must be set up. Intensive counseling services must also be given to man. • Modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles of men and women.

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