Anti-dowry bill awaits approvalThe much-awaited anti-dowry bill has been gathering dust at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW) for over eight months.
The much-awaited anti-dowry bill has been gathering dust at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW) for over eight months.
The bill was prepared and forwarded by the National Women Commission to the ministry in the wake of rising dowry related cases in the country.
“We have not been able to give the anti-dowry bill the importance it deserves and it is still under the preliminary round of inspection,” said Ram Prasad Bhattarai, spokesperson for the ministry, adding that the MoSWC had been busy with the Anti-witchcraft Act, but the April 25 earthquake has since drawn much of the ministry’s focus. According to reports, domestic violence tops the list of abuse against women and a majority of cases are related to dowry. Police data shows around 170 women were killed last year in Nepal, and a majority of the cases were related to the dowry-based violence. People assuming responsible positions, including Constituent Assembly member Brijesh Kumar Gupta, have been accused of demanding dowry. In June, Gupta’s wife Sangeeta had filed a case through the National Women’s Commission (NWC), accusing her husband of domestic violence for not meeting his dowry demands.
However, the absence of an anti-dowry law has made persecution against the culprit difficult, say legal experts.
“So far we have been registering dowry-related cases under the domestic violence offence. However, problems related to dowry are vast and it is difficult for us to fight such cases legally, where perpetrators walk away by paying a small penalty,” said advocate Meera Dhungana.
According to NWC spokesperson Manu Humagain, the proposed bill will specifically criminalise violence against women in the name of dowry, and the perpetrator or perpetrators could be jailed for upto 10 years and fined upto Rs 100,000.