A team of all-women Nepali summiteers accomplished a unique feat of scaling the world’s highest peak in 2008 to clamor for women’s equality and education. Four years later, it seemed that conquering Mt. Everest was easier than eradicating violence against women and gender gap in Nepal.

As the new republican state cheered for women summiteers Shushmita Maskey, Shaili Basnet, Nimdoma Sherpa, Maya Gurung, Poojan Acharya, Usha Bista, Asha Kumari Singh, Nawang Futi Sherpa, Chunu Shrestha and Pema Diki Sherpa, their campaign for women’s opportunity rights and education still remains an elusive dream.

The 2012 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap ranked Nepal in 123 out of 135 countries with one of the lowest enrolment in tertiary education. The female literacy rate is 48% compared to male literacy rate of 73%. Though there was consideration representation of women in the erstwhile Constituent Assembly, not a single female head of government has elected till date.

While the state made a remarkable legislation that allowed women to inherit property at birth and give their children citizenship rights, the upsurge of incidents of women violence in Nepal is a matter of worry.

For an example, there was news recently from rural Achham district about a woman who brought on an ambulance to one of the hospitals in a state of unconsciousness and badly bruised - a typical case of domestic violence. Her story was all over the local newspapers without any sensitivity or respect to her private life. Her relatives claimed that she was equally to be blamed. Another incident happened in Mohanpur VDC-5 of Saptari where a 65-year-old woman was tortured physically on allegations of being a witch. Of the number of women who live in fear of violence, only 10 percent come in contact with the authorities to report their victimisation.

Action Aid's Mona Sherpa is concerned that such women have no real recourse to justice. According to the agency's recent study in Nepal's Siraha district, only two out of 18 cases are registered with the police authorities. “There was the recent well-known case of Suntali Dhami, a woman police constable who was gang-raped by six of her own colleagues. Three of them walked free after being presumed innocent because they had not consumed alcohol. What kind of justice is this?" she asked.

The failure of the state authorities to react to criminal cases as prescribed by law and resorting to ‘mediation’ processes outside the criminal justice system contributes to widespread impunity for the perpetrators, triggering the prevalence of violence against women and girls across the Nepali society.

Victims of these kinds of violence suffer a range of health problems; their ability to earn a living and to participate in public life is diminished. Their children are significantly more at risk of health problems, with poor school performance and likely to develop behavioral disturbances as they grow up.

The UN Department of Public Information states that the cost of intimate partner violence in the United States alone exceeds $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion goes into healthcare services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion. A 2004 study in the United Kingdom estimated the total direct and indirect costs of domestic violence, including pain and suffering, to be £23 billion per year or £440 per person.

While Nepal has created a national database on Gender Based Violence Information Management System (GBVIMS) at the Women's Commission to document violence against women, this fails to address the serious economic consequences of gender-based violence for the country.

Violence against women is one of the most pervasive of human rights violations, denying women’s equality, security, dignity, self-worth, and their right to enjoy fundamental freedoms. It is an epidemic that is not confined to a specific culture, region or country. The roots of violence against women lie in persistent discrimination and exploitation against women.

In its constitution, Nepal has guaranteed women's rights as fundamental right. The Domestic Violence (Offence and Punishment) Control Act, 2009 is one of the major significant legislation to constitutionally guarantee rights to women and that the government of Nepal is committed towards the implication of the International Human Rights in national legislation.

Currently, hundreds of people are staging a sit-in protest fronting the Prime Minister´s residence in Baluwatar demanding justice for women victims of violence, rape and other forms of abuse. Tagged as “Occupy Baluwatar” campaign, this has encouraged some victims to come out in the open and the solidarity has gained momentum and increased its presence in the international media.

Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has pledged “zero tolerance” to violence against women and girls, saying that action will be taken against all those involved in violence, atrocities and other kinds of discriminations against women in the country. However, his words are yet to be translated into deeds.

As the state fails to hold perpetrators of violence accountable of their crimes, this not only encourages further abuses, it also gives a message that violence against women is acceptable.

(Cabrido is a Filipino based in Kathmandu. She writes on environment, transport and gender empowerment issues.

This article appeared in Nepalnews on January 30,2013 PHOTO from sevensummitswomen.org

Comment on this Post


Your article brings up a number of important issues, each of which could be discussed even further. Thank you for bringing these opportunities for discussion and action to WP!

Yes, domestic violence in any form has such a ripple effect in the victim's life, the family, and the political community as well. If this abuse came to an end, or at the very least was reduced (I know that's not the ideal end result, but is the most likely), it would affect the victim's self-esteem, health, and ability to act. This would lead to greater ability to take steps toward earning and education, and on and on. Ultimately affecting society as a whole.

It is my hope and prayer that this Prime Minister actually acts on his words, listening to the cries of the people and listening to what his heart knows is the right course.

So many other things to say on this, as you know. For now, thank you for this article. Thank you for your passion. May you be used for good as you act as a vessel for womens' voices to be heard.

It seems that you have an already begun to act on your vision for women in your country. You may want to look at the Voices of our Future program starting soon. It is a wonderful way to get involved, and possibly be chosen as one of about 30 women to receive more training, tools, and using media to make your voice and visions heard! http://worldpulse.com/pulsewire/groups/63653

Let us Hope together- Michelle aka: Cali gal Listener Sister-Mentor @CaliGalMichelle facebook.com/caligalmichelle Tweets by @CaliGalMich

This is sad fact. Violence is now buzzing around every corner winning despite all our efforts. I am getting concerned that the situation has not improved for a long time. I wonder what has gone wrong? Are we on the wrong track tackling the issue of violence.

The more I read about violence to resolve the serious issue is in education. How do we go about educating men and women. How can the belief systems ingrained for so long can be changed? How can we create awareness? How can media play a role in educating people? Is something missing from the education curriculum? What actions can we take?

I am faced with endless questions when I reflect and think about the issues we face.

I do hope we can come ups with a better education campaign to address the issue of violence.

You are not alone. I am with you to address the issue of violence.

In friendship Amei

Namaste. Chin, thank you for providing background into the situation of domestic violence in Nepal. It is encouraging to see that the Government has taken measures to put legislation in place so that when the time comes for action, at least there are means to prosecute the offenders.

As you will see from the number of posts on PulseWire during the recent Ending Violence Against Women campaign (below), violence against women is rampant throughout the world, be it in India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Uganda, or in Bosnia. http://worldpulse.com/campaigns/evaw


Many women such as Amie are crying out with questions of what to do. Our generation has the opportunity, and the responsibility, to confront the use of violence against women and awareness is the first step.

The second step is to hold our Governments accountable for prosecuting the offenders. There is an overwhelming lack of justice for survivors of rape and sexual violence despite the excellent work by grassroots organisations and NGOs. Our understanding and awareness of these issues has increased over the last decade and bodies such as the UN and the Governments of the G8 have a far wider range of capabilities to bring to bear against this problem.

A critical mass of public opinion has now begun to build up in many countries against the use of sexual violence and we can mobilize global public opinion to rally the efforts of nations. We must demand that our Governments direct their efforts towards accountability and justice, and to increasing the number of prosecutions for these crimes. The time has come for us to shatter the culture of impunity for those who commit these crimes.

Thirdly, as women, we have a responsibility to raise sons who respect women and are held accountable for their actions. We have a responsibility to instill in them the value of women and to demand gender equality. We have a responsibility to tell our daughters that they do not need to accept their fate and that there is always a safe place for them to return to. It is up to us to change the way men view women and to challenge the dominant and parochial beliefs of our cultures.

Let us be the generation that breaks the cycle of violence. Let us be the generation that raise men who respect women and invest in their futures. Let us be the generation that teach our sons to stand up for women’s rights. And let us be the generation that empower our daughters through education and equal participation across society.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your comments. And for the encouragement to speak out against this crime on humanity. I look forward to reading experiences and stories from people in this site.