Nepal has come a long way through various political, socio-economic and developmental changes and all these changes continue to contribute collectively to the betterment of the community and lives of the people as a whole. However, despite political restructuring and promulgation of the new constitution, Nepal has still been grappling with the medieval practices of caste-based discrimination, child marriages, dowry demand and dowry-related violence, among other social malpractices. This goes in contradiction with the nation’s milestones achieved in various fronts including, women’s rights and an inclusive features of the constitution. Such ill practices, happening as a result of superstition and social stereotypes, amount to human rights violations which prevent people from their fundamental right to life, to live with dignity without any physical, social and emotional discrimination.
The government has legally banned the dowry system, child marriage and has criminalised the caste-based discrimination. However, such ill practices continue to be reported from different parts of the country. There has apparently been a surge in the cases of dowry-related violence against women, child marriage and witchcraft accusations, especially in Province 2. A wrong sense of superiority of traditions, ignorance, superstition, poverty and social stigma has been largely attributed to the prevalence of these evil practices.
While inaugurating a newly constructed stadium in Matihani Municipality of Mahottari district on Monday, President Bidya Devi Bhandari touched upon these very malpractices that make girls and women main victims. The President said that issues of caste-based discrimination, violence against women, superstition, and poverty due to illiteracy being reported in the birth place of goddess Sita are upsetting and challenging. She also praised the province-wide 'Save Girls, Educate Girls' (Beti Bachau-Beti Padhau’) campaign launched by the provincial government. The implementation of such praiseworthy campaign is very essential. Under the scheme, every newborn girl is to be insured across all eight districts of the province.
As per the acclaimed provincial campaign, a girl child is eligible for the insurance policy once she receives her citizenship certificate. The girls will receive a lump sum insurance amount of Rs. 125,000 for their education. The insurance policy was started from 15 January 2019 with the goal of stopping child marriage and dowry system and other malpractices prevalent in many parts of Terai region. The Province 2 government implemented insurance scheme to encourage girl’s education. The main objective of the campaign is to end all kinds of discrimination, violence against women and child marriage. However, due to the poor implementation of the programme, the execution aspect has been challenging.
The implementation of such campaign needs support from multiple sectors. Various organisations working across different areas of development need to have necessary approach to address harmful practices to ensure that everyone realises his/her right to a life of dignity, free from physical, sexual, social, and emotional violence and discrimination. Nepal is good at legislation for prohibiting all forms of discrimination, child marriage, and violence against women but still lags behind in the implementation part. Social awareness, grassroots campaign and strict implementation of legal provision are necessary for ending these social ills.