In Nepal, violence against women is one of the major factors responsible for the poor health of women, livelihood insecurity, and inadequate social mobilization. The magnitude of gender-based violence in Nepal is extremely high. Several research projects in Nepal have indicated that 66 percent of women have endured verbal abuse, 33 percent emotional abuse, while 77 percent of the perpetrators were family members (UNICEF 2001). This indicates that even the home is not a safe place for women. Social relations of power place women in a subordinate position, giving many women few rights in the family, community and society in general. In addition, in the context of political conflict, women have often become the target of violence. Because women are made the objects of revenge, there has been an increase in sexual assault and sexual harassment. Thus, gender-based violence is a serious issue that requires a comprehensive solution.
Violence against women (VAW) during armed conflict is a phenomenon that has become a characteristic of any armed conflict- it is also the case in Nepal. However, VAW has remained largely invisible because of the lack of evidence, adequate and proper documentation of women's human rights violations. Although, it is evident from talking to various authorities working on women's issues and community women themselves that VAW is a major development issue in Nepal, it still draws less attention because of its gender specific impact.
The patriarchal and male dominated social formations compel women to hide violations they face, which means the issues never surface and hence receive little or no attention from government structures. Precisely because violence against women remains hidden, documentation becomes an effective tool for exposing these violations.
Documentation of women's human rights violations especially during wartime becomes important to record, in order to illustrate how women are as affected as the men during conflict situations, albeit differently. Documentation also catalyzes the process of reconciliation and allows women specific issues to come forward during the reconstruction process.
During the 61st session of the Commission on Human Rights in 2005 Geneva, the need to document cases of women's human rights violations especially in times of armed conflict became obvious. Given the present political situation in Nepal, women have been targeted and used by the different parties at war; domestic violence is significantly increasing; women have become more vulnerable to trafficking because of the higher rates of internal displacement; coerced sex work around army barracks has been increasing; and a culture of silence around VAW resulting partly from the increased militarization of Nepali society has developed. However, at the commission, when questions were raised regarding evidence of these violations and gender specific data, it was not available. This is the challenge faced by pro- human rights groups in Nepal at the 61st session and hence, the organization decided to immediately proceed to document women's human rights violations in Nepal.
With the realization that documentation of the effect of the conflict on women’s rights was necessary to make visible state atrocities towards women as well as to emphasize women's active participation in Nepal’s armed conflict, the Women's Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC) started a nationwide documentation campaign. In the process, WOREC trained 125 community women leaders from 62 districts on documentation skills for documenting cases of violence against women in their community.
Since 2005, the trained documenters have been working on documenting cases of violence against women. The main goal of this entire process is to record evidence on violence against women that will work as an advocacy tool towards making the state accountable for addressing women specific issues, in particular, women’s human rights violations in situations of armed conflict.
Given the deteriorating human rights situation of the country, it becomes pertinent that we give continuity to our advocacy work on women's human rights. Therefore, WOREC is actively participating in the UNCHR this year in Geneva.
WOREC in coordination with FORUM ASIA has submitted two written statements for the upcoming commission. (Please put the written statements on pdf format through links)
7th March 2008, KATHMANDU
After the restoration of democracy, Nepal government has made commitments for security and promotion of human rights by revising international covenants related with human rights. Traditional laws based on discriminatory social and cultural tradition and behavior still exists in the country. It is clear that women human rights are more violated during twelve years conflict period and armed conflict and political instability in terai region since one year. According to the CEDAW report, state should manage to keep records on women human right violation for reflecting the real situation of women in the country. Therefore government organization and NGOs had initialized documenting the cases of women human rights violation.
In this context, documenting cases of VAW, to ensure victim's access to justice, analytical report and information were disseminated to related stake holders, networks, groups and medias to build strong base. WOREC Nepal, working on women rights issues and societal justice has collected the cases of violence against women from 2064 Baisakh to Magh from various sources. In this analytical report, background and objectives are mentioned in first chapter, cases documented by WOREC Nepal in second chapter, cases of violence published in newspapers in third chapter and cases received from different non-government organizations, government organizations, community based organization(CBOs) and media(Nepal fm) in forth chapter. Finally total analysis and conclusion with recommendations are presented in fifth chapter.
This study and analysis is based on cases of women human rights violation collected from three different sources. These sources are national daily newspapers (The Kathmnadu Post, Kantipur, Nepal Samacharpatra, Gorkhapatra and Annapurna Post) and from NGOs, CBOs and government organization are namely LACC, ABC Nepal, District Police Office (Janakpur), (District Police Office (Udayapur), Women Cell, Shakri women federation (Udayapur), National Human Rights Commission (Janakpur), VDC paralegal committee (Udayapur), women federation (Biratnagar) and Nepal fm. Likewise cases documented by documenters and Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) in WOREC database were from various districts namely Morang, Sunsari, Udayapur, Siraha, Dhanusha, Kathmandu, Dang, Kailali, Kapilbastu and Kanchanpur. In this way total 3562 cases were analyzed which were from WOREC database (262 cases), newspapers (233 cases) and from different NGOs, CBOs and government organization (3067 cases).
From this study in reality, women in Nepal are suffering from physical torture and domestic violence. Physical torture and domestic violence are more major forms of violence which is prevailing to women in Nepal. Maximum cases have proved that due to superstition, culture of male dominance, women's sensitiveness and innocent behavior; women are victimized in home by their husband and family members. Violence against women is more rooted due to patriarchal norms, values and overwhelming discriminatory laws and policies of state. Victimized women have no access to justice. Violence against women and suffering is more. Law regarding rape is discriminatory. Mechanism of reporting rape case as mentioned in rape law, within the time limitation of 35 days is difficult to access justice by victims. There is no required facility and mechanism of physical test/ observation quickly after rape in government hospitals. Doctor's discriminatory attitude is more victimizing victim women. It is foreseen the impossibility of women's access to justice because of criminalization in politics.
Due to tradition, social and gender discrimination, women have perceived sexual and physical violence as their fate. Marital rape is established as husband's right. Remarkable data has been received on violence blaming women as witch. State has failed the implementation of strong law related with domestic violence and physical battering. The deeply rooted social infrastructure has led to lack of sensitization to minimize violence against women in society.
Violence against women has made women vulnerable due to the lack access to resources and property. They are even more victimized when they protest their rights. There is no any option except their home when women raise their voice against husband, family and neighbors violating them. Thus they are persuaded to be in that environment which is unfavorable to them. There is no provision of safe house to these women by the state. So unless like these types of support mechanism are developed, there is every possibility that women are subjected to several forms of violence.
Data on violence against women were more obtained from police and administration office. Maximum number of cases have been registered or reported from those districts where NGO federation, paralegal committee and human rights workers are active. Though cases have been registered, implementation of these is feeble. Only few cases are finalized and victim had accessed to justice Amongst many cases, some are lost, some legal processes are stopped and some still pending for justice with no further steps because of threat by police and administration
National daily newspapers have published the cases of VAW but the role of perpetrator and reason of violence are least specified. This predicts that yet media fails directly access to victim or inaccessible in all the places nationwide. Data obtained clearly state that cases of violence against women are more on central and western development region. Several reasons lies behind this, in depth analysis is required.
Patriarchal structure, norms, values and tradition has led women suffering from physical battering and domestic violence. State has failed in the formulation and implementation of laws related with domestic violence and physical torture. Thus women are subjected to violence when they protest their rights and no provisions for safe house for these affected women has been ensured by State.