Protecting the vulnerableDespite the fact that Nepal’s constitution contains multiple security arrangements, rights and legal provisions to safe guard the interests of Nepali women, the status of females has shown no marked improvement, and instead can be seen to be deteriorating.
Despite the fact that Nepal’s constitution contains multiple security arrangements, rights and legal provisions to safe guard the interests of Nepali women, the status of females has shown no marked improvement, and instead can be seen to be deteriorating. Data regarding females has been collected from various parts of Nepal and conclusively points to the vulnerability of females within the country. Whether they be infants, children, teenagers, or adults, members of the female gender are being victimised by rape, sexual assault and various forms of domestic violence.
Every week we see reports on the media about multiple stories of rape and violence against women. The condition of women in Nepal is deteriorating due to three particular reasons.
One of the reasons for such heinous crimes occurring against women is the lack of rigid rules and regulations against perpetrators. Rules and regulations should be strengthened and should be strictly followed. If broken, the perpetrators should be held to account so that they serve as examples to all others, and so no one will dare to commit similar crimes in the future. The problem is that in the context of Nepal, the implementation of rules and regulations is not very effective and neither is the process of holding violators to account and penalising them for their wrong doings.
If weak legal provisions are one reason for violence against women, another reason concerns the lack of access that these victims have to concerned authorities. Authorities can mean either police stations, VDC offices, or other related organisations. There are many areas in Nepal where citizens have no access to security and other legal provisions from the government level. It takes many people who live in rural areas an entire day or more to reach either government offices or police stations. In such areas, women are highly vulnerable. Thus, perpetrators often do not suffer any consequences for their acts of violence or abuse, and because of the lack of consequences, the likelihood of such offenses occurring increases.
The final reason behind the increased occurrence of such heinous crimes is the ineptitude shown by multiple stakeholders. These stakeholders could be the Government of Nepal, The President’s Office, Nepal Police and various INGOs and NGOs. They may be busy working towards the welfare of the public, but the true fact of the matter is that the results are far from satisfactory when it comes to safe guarding the interests of the females in Nepal. In particular, the monitoring and evaluation provisions don’t seem effective at all when it comes to dealing with incidents of abuse and violence. Media coverage on such cases are not enough. There have to be systematic monitoring and evaluation procedures that should be followed to ensure the well-being of all victims.
Nepal may have had a female President, Speaker and Chief Justice, but despite such appointments, the regular Nepali woman is still extremely vulnerable.
I do not expect the creation of a utopian society in Nepal, where everything is perfect and all are safe. Such expectations would be impossible to achieve. But what I do expect is minimal attention afforded to the protection of vulnerable women by the numerous stakeholders in Nepal. Even the slightest attention will result in significant progress in regards to the issue. We may see numerous social media posts, and we may hear of seminars conducted in hotels and halls that focus on the protection of women, but the sad fact of the matter is that such initiatives are yet to make much of a difference. Women in Nepal are still extremely vulnerable.
In Article 39 of the Constitution of Nepal, women’s rights have been clearly mentioned as a fundamental right. Besides this, Nepal is a member of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. But these rules, regulations and treaties have not translated to any effective change or progress at the local level. Legal provisions may exist, but women in Nepal are still vulnerable.
Nepal is a democratic nation. The government of Nepal should guarantee the fundamental rights of all citizens. The state has to safeguard the interests of those who are vulnerable and ensure that all have access to protection and justice.
Kunwar is pursuing a doctorate in Conflict, Peace and Development Studies from Tribhuvan University