Tuesday, 25 January, 2022

End Gender-based Violence

Women in Nepal constitute more than 50 per cent of total population. Their strong demographic presence indicates their important role in the overall development process of the nation. Nepal has witnessed increased women empowerment over the years, thanks to the political awareness, education, constitutional arrangement, implementation of pro-women laws and frequent campaigns against female discrimination. Their access to health, education, jobs and decision-making platforms is growing at a satisfactory level. Gender equality has been fundamental for the equitable development of society. The political and legal mechanisms have been created to ensure gender parity. Despite these achievements, women continue to suffer from different problems that constrain their mental, physical, intellectual and economic progress. One such serious issue is violence against women. They are subject to domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape, mental trauma, trafficking, dowry and child marriage, among others.

Violence against women is now pervasive evil inflicting women globally. According to the United Nations, nearly one in three women has been abused in their lifetime. Only one in 10 women approaches the police to get justice. The cases of violence against women rose dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, humanitarian crisis, conflicts and climate calamities, states the UN Women report. Nonetheless, gender-based violence can be controlled and the victims are assured justice if we instil confidence into victims, do away with bad social norms and misconceptions and muster support from police, court, political parties and civil societies to this end. Moreover, the women seeking justice and rights should be provided economic and legal backing. It requires collaborative and comprehensive efforts to end gender gender-based violence that takes place at home, office and public places.

Against this backdrop, Nepal has actively participated in UN-led 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence that began from November 25. It will conclude on December 10 coinciding with the World Human Rights Day. The campaign’s theme is “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!” The global drive is expected to generate sufficient amount of consciousness to eradicate all forms of violence and discriminations against women. The campaign falls on Nepali month of Mangsir when the cases of violence against women declines, according to the news report of this daily. However, the overall scenario is not optimistic. Data provided by Nepal Police show that the cases of gender-based violence form around 40 per cent of total crimes occurred from 2017/18 to 2019/20.

Domestic violence alone occupies 77 per cent of the cases related to gender-based violence. The police investigation reveals that majority of predators and victims lack good education but those having higher education have also been involved in violence against women. The efforts to bring the culprits to book often hit a snag as victims hesitate to come forward and present evidences against them owing to the entrenched cultural and societal factors. Some victims fear potential reprisal and conceal the violence against them. As many perpetrators are known individuals or relatives of victims, it becomes tricky to investigate and move the legal process. This requires adopting effective policy to make sure that the victims get justice and lead a decent life thereafter. The ongoing campaign against gender-based violence should be made effective so as to ensure security of women.