FWLD - Working for Non-Discrimination and Equality

Violence Against Women

–  Advocate Roshana Pradhan, FWLD

Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPFA) in 1995 reflects a new international commitment to the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere. In March 2020, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is going to undertake a review of progress made by the states in the implementation of the BPFA in 64th Session with theme of realizing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. The Beijing Review provides an important opportunity for women to examine their respective governments’ efforts and those of the other non- state actors in implementing the BPFA. It is also an opportunity for holding leaders and governments accountable for their commitments made for women’s empowerment, gender equality and the promotion of women’s human rights under the BPFA.

The National Network for Beijing Review Nepal (NNBN) which constitutes of over 70 leading NGOs working to protect and promote Women’s Human Rights in Nepal has submitted the NGOs (parallel) report of Nepal on the Beijing +25 review and Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD) has been coordinating all the process as a Secretariat of the Network. The report consists the present status, progress achieved, persistent and emerging challenges along with conclusion and recommendation in 12 Beijing critical areas of concern.

The report states that Violence against women is ubiquitously present in Nepal, hindering women’s enjoyment of human rights and curtailing their substantive participation in private, public and institutional space and environment. Patriarchal mind sets continue to prevail that perpetuates stereotypes on harmful practices such as menstrual restrictions, witchcraft, bonded labor and Triple Talak. Although the Constitution provides equal rights to women, the negative stereotype exists due to lack of understanding and awareness on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) and on women with disabilities at all levels, including the grassroots level.[1] While sexual violence of women with disabilities is high in Nepal, there is a lack of official evidence on this. The primary reason for the violence is the dependency women with disability have on the perpetrators of the violence, since most of them are husbands, carers or teachers.

The report further pinpoints that VAW cross-cuts all caste, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and is experienced most severely by those women who are from marginalized group such as Dalit, Madhesi, and indigenous communities, religious minorities, gender and sexual minorities (LBTI), women from geographically disadvantaged locations, women with disabilities, displaced women and women in entertainment sector. Owing to the progress achieved, Constitution of Nepal (2015) protects women from physical, mental, sexual, psychological or other forms of violence or exploitation based on religion, social, cultural tradition, or on any other grounds[2]; makes all acts of VAWG punishable by law; and empowers the victim with the right to obtain compensation. Similarly, GoN has enacted Sexual Harassment at Work Place (Prevention) Act in 2014 and Witchcraft-related Accusation (Crime and Punishment) Act, in 2015. The Country Criminal Code 2017, has elaborate legal framework to deal with the issue of VAWG such as rape, child marriage, forced marriage, polygamy and menstrual restriction. Similarly, The Crime Victim Protection Act, 2018 ensures the right to justice of crime victims in criminal investigation, adjudication of cases, compensation and social rehabilitation. Owing to the institutional mechanisms, government has 10 shelters, One Stop Crisis Management Centres, Women and Children Service Directorate in Police, helpline of National Women Commission to combat VAW.

The report also shows some persistent and emerging challenges such as despite of governments, NGos and other concerned stakeholders’ effort to deal with VAW, there is lack of effective implementation of laws, lack of accountability of law enforcement agencies, social stigma, lack of implementation of court decision, lack of conviction rate, patriarchal mindset, dysfunctionality of GBV funds, lack of adequate rehabilitation centres, lack of free legal aid, among others.

In view of these weaknesses and gapes, the report has made following recommendations i.e. policies and practices  should focus on the diversity within women, effective awareness programs on VAW to be conducted by all stakeholders, increase accountability of law enforcement agencies by providing them with training and workshops, state should provide for strong and robust response mechanism for cases of VAW, functionalize GBV fund, provide interim relief and increase men engagement to combat VAW.

[1] Shadow Report on Sixth Periodic Report of Nepal, Shadow Report Preparation Committee (SRPC), 2018, p. 13

[2] Constitution of Nepal, Article 38 (3) – No woman shall be subjected to physical, mental, sexual, psychological or other form of violence or exploitation on grounds of religion, social, cultural tradition, practice or on any other grounds. Such act shall be punishable by law, and the victim shall have the right to obtain compensation in accordance with law.